small is the new big

A few days ago, Cole finished 8th grade. There was a morning ceremony, an afternoon class trip to the local water park, and an evening dance. A full day of big celebrations.

Yet what stands out for me from the day aren’t the biggest moments but the smallest.

Just three words.

For each and every eighth grader, the middle school faculty had gathered and decided on three words to describe them. No word was used twice. Each set was read aloud, then there was a pause, followed by the student’s name. It was done deliberately unalphabetized, so you never knew ahead of time to whom the words belonged.

It was enchanting. Delightful. Insightful.

It was clear that these teachers knew each and every child. And it was clear that they knew them not for big events, large accomplishments, or noteworthy feats. None of the words were about what the kids did. All of the words were about who they are.

They knew them from the small stuff. The everyday interactions. The conversations before class, the passings in the hallway, the lunch-time shenanigans. Three words that worked together to give the listener great insight, because the faculty had been listening every day for three years.

It’s the power of small.

This time of year there are lots of big moments. Father’s Day. Weddings. Graduations. Retirements. Yet these three words reminded us that life stories aren’t in the formal portraits. They are in the casual snapshots.

So here are ours from the day. (and in the spirit of small is big, Cole would like you to know that I had on heels that day and that he is, in fact, now taller than I am. and the picture where he is slouched? that’s to remind us how small he was in 6th grade. At least we got one great shot with his grandparents, right?).

cole2 cole3 cole4





How do you notice your child? It is easy to see them for the big stuff. What small ways do you see them, too? What are your three words? Send me your list. I’d love to know.

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