On the first day of middle school, mom uses a tube of toothpaste to give her daughter a lesson on the power of words
Amy Beth Gardner’s daughter started middle school this week. She did all the usual back-to-school preparations:decorated her locker, bought new uniforms, even surprised her with a new backpack. Then, on the night before her daughter’s first day of school, she took out a plate and a tube of toothpaste and calmly squeezed the whole tube onto the plate.
Yes, there is a method to her madness.
“I gave her a tube of toothpaste and asked her to squirt it out onto a plate. When she finished, I calmly asked her to put all the toothpaste back in the tube,” Gardner explains. Of course, her daughter looked at her like it was an impossible task, because it is. Her daughter began to say things like But I can’t! and It won’t be like before!
That’s when mom dropped some serious knowledge, with some words her daughter will probably never forget:
“You will remember this plate of toothpaste for the rest of your life. Your words have the power of life or death. As you go into middle school, you are about to see just how much weight your words carry. You are going to have the opportunity to use your words to hurt, demean, slander and wound others. You are also going to have the opportunity to use your words to heal, encourage, inspire and love others. You will occasionally make the wrong choice; I can think of three times this week I have used my own words carelessly and caused harm. Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can’t take them back.”
Think before you speak. Use your words wisely. This is a lesson we can all use. It’s a reminder we all need.
“Use your words carefully, Breonna. When others are misusing their words, guard your words. Make the choice every morning that life-giving words will come out of your mouth. Decide tonight that you are going to be a life-giver in middle school. Be known for your gentleness and compassion. Use your life to give life to a world that so desperately needs it. You will never, ever regret choosing kindness.”
We can’t just hope that our kids are going to turn into fair, kind adults. We have to teach them just what that means. Especially today, in a world that sometimes feels like its brimming with insults and aggression — it’s so important to teach our kids about the power of their words.
It’s a lesson we all clearly need — it’s been shared over a half a million times in three days.
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