I was helping to clean and organize his room, so I stumbled upon it by complete chance. If I hadn't volunteered to help him on that particular day, and if I hadn't been tackling that particular pile myself, it likely would've been discarded and lost forever. Mistaken for just another old assignment that had long since been finished and graded. And what a shame that would've been.
I smoothed out the creases and gently placed it front and center on his bulletin board above his desk. I wanted it to be in a place where he could see it often and be reminded of who he is. This, this self-affirming and wholly positive, uplifting piece had come from the depths of my son. The words poured out there on that paper reflected how he felt about himself when he wrote it. I stood there for a minute, lingering on each line as I read and reread it through eyes half blinded with tears.
As I've mentioned before, and what you already know yourselves, is that middle school years are terrible. It's a raw period of transformation physically and emotionally. It's an incredible gift during this time for a child to be reminded that they are loved for who they are--and not by us as their parents,who hopefully show them and tell them all of the time that we love them--but to be reminded that THEY actually love THEMSELVES for who they are. From this comes confidence, self-awareness and understanding which filters into all areas of their lives.
I know I have struggled many times in my life with liking myself, let alone LOVING myself. But what an incredible gift it would be to be reminded during those challenging times that I actually do like and love myself...and to be reminded with my own words. It would be uplifting, sure, but more than that. It would be encouraging. It would be motivating. It would be empowering.
I can't share with you his poem, because it's deeply personal to him and reflects his feelings at the time at which he wrote it, but what I do want to share with you is this: Do this exercise. Complete this template and when you're finished, print it out and frame it. Hang it somewhere where you will see it often. Remind yourself of who you are and what you're capable of. You will surprise yourself in the best possible way.