When I sat down to write this column, I decided, as writers often do, to do something else.
Instead, I wrote a letter to Colton.
Colton lives in upstate New York. He is my godson. Colton is 4 years old and turns 5 in November. But before reaching that milestone, he has to hurdle another.
Colton is entering kindergarten.
His mom – my cousin, Mary Wheeler – and I were faithful pen pals as kids. We exchanged letters almost every week, often including in the envelopes little gifts such as stickers or friendship bracelets.
We still occasionally write to each other via snail mail, and I visit her family in person at least three or four times each year.
Last Thursday, while I was on vacation, my mom (Dawn Baumeister) and I made one of those visits. When it came time for us to head home, Colton begged us to stay longer, then begged us to come back the next day. We couldn’t, but I promised to write to him.
Your Aunt Dawn and I had a great time with you and your family last week. It was fun walking around the pond at Sapsucker Woods and then eating a picnic lunch at Stewart Park. Remember those three turtles we saw sunning themselves on a log? And the great blue heron that caught a fish? And the seagulls that wanted our lunch?
Thanks again for sharing your chocolate cookies with Aunt Dawn and I. They were yummy; I’m glad the birds didn’t get them.
I’m also glad you got to play in the sprinklers and ride the carousel, too. What a day.
I’m so excited that you’re starting kindergarten. You’re going to have so much fun. I bet you’ll even learn about dinosaurs, although you probably already know more about them than the other kids in your class.
Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers lots of questions and answer lots of questions they ask the class. That’s how you’ll get even smarter.
You’re going to make new friends, too. I know you’re wary of people you don’t know – even kids your own age – but once you get to know your classmates, I think you’ll like them.
And I know they’ll like you.
But sometimes you might also meet bullies, kids who aren’t nice. They might be mean and tease you and/or your friends. I knew some bullies when I was a kid in school. So did your mommy.
But many times when kids are mean, it’s because other people were mean to them. Maybe if you’re nice to bullies, it will teach them how to be nice, too.
Never be mean back, because that will turn you into a bully like them.
Always be a friend. I know you’ll be a great one.
Hope to see you again soon.
Since the invention of Facebook and social media, people don’t send each other snail mail as often as they used to. But everyone likely remembers how good it feels to get that card or letter in the mail.
So take this invitation to write a short note to a “Colton” in your life – a niece, nephew, godchild or grandkid – to let him or her know that the first days of school are something to celebrate, not fear.
And maybe even tuck some stickers inside the envelope.
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