My four-year-old daughter started pre-school today. We are sending her to an all-day pre-school at a local parochial school. After hugs, a few tears, and some apprehensive looks, we left her with her teacher (a wonderful young lady) and her squirmy classmates.
I though of this poem that I ran across many years ago:
Teach Him Gently ... if you can ...
My son starts school tomorrow ... It's all
going to be strange and new to him for a while, and
I wish you would sort of treat him gently ...
You see, up to now, he's been our little boy.
He's been boss of the back yard ... His mother has
always been around to repair his wounds, and I've
always been handy to soothe his feelings.
But now, things are going to be different ...
This morning he's going to walk down the front steps,
wave his hand, and start out on the great adventure ...
It's an adventure that will probably include wars and
tragedy and sorrow.
To live his life in the world he will live in requires
faith and love an courage.
So, world, I wish you would sort of take him by his
young hand and teach him the things he will have
Teach him, but gently ... if you can.
He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not
just, that all men are not true.
But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is
a hero ... that for every selfish politician, there is
a dedicated leader ... Teach him that for every enemy,
there is a friend.
It will take time, world, I know, but teach him, if
you can, that a nickel earned is of far more value
than a dollar found ... Teach him to learn to lose ... and
to enjoy winning.
Steer him away from envy, if you can, and teach him
the secret of quiet laughter.
Let him learn early that the bullies are the easiest
people to lick ... Teach him, if you can, the wonder of
books ... But also give him quiet time to ponder the
eternal mystery of the birds in the sky, bees in the sun,
and flowers on a green hillside.
In school, world, teach him it is far more honorable
to fail than to cheat ... Teach him to have faith in
his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are
wrong ... Teach him to be gentle with gentle people
and tough with tough people.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the
crowd when everyone else is getting on the band
wagon ... Teach him to listen to all men ... but teach him
also to filter what he hears through a screen of truth and
take only the good that comes through.
Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad ...
Teach him there is no shame in tears ... Teach him there
can be glory in failure and despair in success.
Teach him to scoff at cynics and beware of too
much sweetness ... Teach him to sell his brawn and
brains to the highest bidders but never put a
price tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob ... and
to stand and fight if he thinks he's right.
Teach him gently, world, but don't coddle him, because
only the test of fire makes fine steel.
Let him have the courage to be impatient ... let him
have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself.
Because then he will always have sublime faith in
This is such a big order, world, but see what you can do ...
He's such a fine little fellow, my son!
-- Dan Valentine, published in Ideals Scrapbook, © 1961 Ideals Publishing Co.