By Allison Amy Wedell
As someone who makes her living by writing, one of my favorite sayings is, “Words mean things.” That’s a rather glib way to convey the immense power of words, whether written or spoken. Words have the power to help or hurt, to make us laugh or cry. That power is especially important when there are kids in your life.
This is most often manifested in situations like that one time you let the f-word drop in front of your toddler, who goes on to gleefully repeat it in front of, say, her visiting grandparents or your boss. Extrapolating from your tone of voice and the situation in which you uttered it, your adorable kiddo knew it was a powerful word—hence trotting it out in polite company, to your likely mortification.
But sometimes you say the wrong thing and it’s not so funny. Maybe you lose your temper about grades or chores or friends and say something to your child that you shouldn’t. And no matter how much you apologize for it, no matter how much you wish you hadn’t said it, he still remembers it. Because it was powerful. Because words mean things.
So maybe this March 19, we can use our words for good. Why that date in particular? Because March 19 is the 23rd annual Absolutely Incredible Kid Day. It’s when we adults write to the Absolutely Incredible Kid(s) in our lives to tell them how absolutely incredible they are. It is, as the day’s founder, Camp Fire, puts it, “a simple, meaningful way to let young people know how much they are appreciated.”
Now, if you’re anything like me, the idea of writing something like this to your kiddo is incredibly daunting, because your kiddo deserves the best and so your message has to be perfect. (Have you ever heard that saying, “Perfect is the enemy of good”? I should probably have that tattooed on the back of my hand so I can see it while I type.) Fortunately, Camp Fire has foreseen that very issue and offers tons of tips and examples to get you started.
But I can’t very well ask you to write to the Absolutely Incredible Kid(s) in your life without writing to mine. So without further ado, I’m putting my money where my proverbial mouth is. My kiddo is 12, nicknamed Cricket, and is hands-down the best thing I have ever done with my life. So here goes.
March 19, 2020
Today is Absolutely Incredible Kid Day (I know this because I had to write a blog about it), so I’m writing to tell you how absolutely incredible you are. Of course, I tell you I love you at least once every day, but there’s a lot packed into those three little words. I thought maybe I’d unpack them now.
- “I love you” means ever since the second I saw the positive result on the pregnancy test, I’ve loved you more than anything or anyone in the entire universe.
- “I love you” means I see your big, empathetic, compassionate heart and it makes mine smile.
- “I love you” means you make me want to be a better person.
- “I love you” means I am astounded by your talent at visual art and the hard work you put into developing it.
- “I love you” means I see how kind and careful you are with smaller, weaker beings—dogs, cats, babies—and it speaks to your good character.
- “I love you” means I see you navigating all the drama that is middle school, remember how hard it was for me, and marvel at your maturity.
- “I love you” means you have a hilarious sense of humor and it’s so fun to laugh with you.
- “I love you” means you are one of the most unselfish people I know. You almost always put others’ needs before your own.
- “I love you” means you are learning to be assertive and stand up for yourself when you need to, and that’s important too.
- “I love you” means I love you. Always and forever. No matter what. Thank you for being an Absolutely Incredible Kid.
Allison Amy Wedell is a writer, editor, and mom whose diverse work focuses on sexual abuse prevention, bullying prevention, social and emotional learning, public safety, and theater/acting. She is the author of Shaking Hands with Shakespeare: A Teenager’s Guide to Reading and Performing the Bard (Simon & Schuster, 2004), and her work has been featured here and at babycenter.com, MomsRising.org, and Committee for Children. You can find her on LinkedIn.
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