To my darling boy on your first day of High School,
It doesn’t feel like two minutes ago that I was dropping you off for your very first day of Primary School. You were so small, your little hand firmly in mine, all fresh and new and raring to go. You kissed me goodbye with such self-assurance and strolled into a classroom full of strangers without a second look back. And I was so proud of you, I always have been.
And now you are eleven and not quite so little. You have grown into the most handsome, kind-hearted and loving young man, wise beyond your years, fiercely independent and hugely talented. And tomorrow, you shall face the start of a whole new adventure ahead.
I know that you are scared. I know that the school seems huge in comparison to the last, that the teachers seem frightening and the number of pupils is overwhelming. I know that you’re worried, wondering how will you ever navigate your way around those endless corridors and classrooms. I know that you’re panicking, thinking that the work will be too hard, that you won’t be able to cope with the endless mounds of homework each night. I understand all of that, but know this. You are a brave, confident and independent young man. You have a voice, make sure that you use it.
Make friends. With everyone. Remember that you are all in the same position, everyone is looking around for a friendly face and a smile. Be that person who reaches out to the boy stood on his own, to the child standing on the sidelines, too nervous to join in. Be wise with your friendship choices, remember that these are the friendships that may last you a lifetime. In many years from now, these may be the boys who are stood beside you, best man at your wedding, godfather to your children. Be sensible, remember right from wrong, be your own person, stay true to yourself and the values we have instilled in you.
Work hard. Remind yourself that although the teachers may seem scary, they are human beings just like the rest of us. They are mums and dads with children at home just like you. Remember that they simply have a job to do, targets to reach, pressures and worries of their own to deal with. Be kind to them, let them see you for the bright, intelligent, kind boy that you are. Excel wherever possible, show them how you can shine in a class full of children. Be the reason that they come to work each morning, remind them that teaching is the most rewarding job of all time.
Behave yourself. High school will bring you a whole new set of rules, of stricter regimes and punishments. Familiarise yourself with all of them and know that they are there for a reason. Remember your manners, respect your elders and accept that although there will be times when you feel that life is unfair, biting your tongue will always keep you out of trouble.
Talk to me. Tell me about your day, about your friends and your worries. Let me in, remember that I have been exactly where you are now and can help you through any worry and any problem. Trust me, remember that I will keep your secrets, do my best to protect you and fight your corner whenever needed. Tell me when you’re scared, when you’re nervous, when you’re happy. Let me be there for you, always.
Believe in yourself. Join new clubs, push yourself to try new things, discover something that makes you happy and try your hardest to be the best that you can be. Throw yourself into school life whole heartedly, take advantage of everything offered to you, embrace every experience and every opportunity. Tell yourself that there is nothing on this planet that you cannot achieve. When the work load feels overwhelming or the task too hard, remind yourself that you can do anything at all that you set your mind to.
Enjoy yourself. I promise you that this will be the best time of your life. My parents told me the same, many moons ago, and I used to sneer and look at them in disbelief. Algebra? Hockey in the rain? Scientific equations? How can that possibly be the best time of my life? But it is, I promise you. Never again will you have this time, use it to your benefit and enjoy it. Every single moment.
In twenty years from now, when you are almost as old as I, and you look back on your time at school, I hope that you will tell me that I was right. That these were the best days of your life. I hope that you will have sailed through life with a solid education behind you, into a job that you love and which rewards you each and every day. I hope that you have a close group of friends to reminisce about your school days with, fond memories of holidays, experiences and occasions you have shared.
Because tomorrow, right here and now, is the start of this amazing journey. And although I cannot walk beside you and hold your hand as I did all those years ago, know that I am right here, championing you on from the sidelines. Your biggest fan, your constant ally, your best friend.
Be brave. Be confident. Be kind.