by Donna Janesky
My grandson Dallas wanted to bring some friends with him when he visited me, so I said, “Sure, bring them along.” There were three of them! Oh my, where would they all sleep?
We managed with double beds and couches, and they settled in for the weekend. Two were Black and one was Hispanic; my grandson is white. It pleased me that he had diverse friends. We set out to have a great time together. We went ice skating—totally new to Dallas’s friends. They played basketball together. We went to the Dreamette for their famous ice cream. We did Thrift Store shopping, which they really liked.
Now, I have a program I like to do with kids. It’s called Grandma School. In it I teach about budgets, writing thank you notes, setting a table, cooking basics, sewing on a button—you get the idea. Many of these things are not taught in school and busy parents don’t have always have the time or energy. So, I thought, why don’t we have a few sessions of Grandma School?
I chose to do Thank You notes, and one I just developed is called “Words Matter.” Joe Namath the football player grew up thinking his name was “Shut Up”until he was thirteen years old.
“You are fat”; “You are Ugly”; “You are stupid”; “You won’t amount to anything”; “No One likes you”, and so on. All had experience these words or something similar spoken by classmates, friends, or family, or they had heard them spoken to others.
What we hear every day becomes our reality. If you are told every day that you will never amount to anything, guess what? You may never try.
And so, I had each boy write down five positive things to place by their bathroom mirror and say to themselves every morning. We then passed a mirror around and each boy read what he had written.
That was pretty much the end of the exercise, until my grandson said, “Let’s go around the table and say positive things about each person.” He began, and since I was sitting next to him, started with me. Oh my! My heart was full. As each boy spoke, the emotion was over the moon. We all took turns speaking to each person, and by the end of the exercise, we all had tears in our eyes! What an experience! Perhaps we had not heard such words before. Hearing them in this way made it such a moving experience.
And so, they ended the weekend with good memories and promised to return.
Bruce Lee said, “Change the way you speak about yourself and you change your life. What you’re not changing, you are choosing.”