Make Good Choices

Did you read the article about the young girl who was nominated to homecoming court as a prank? I love that this attempt at a cruel joke backfired.

Photo source: CNN

Ugh. Kids can be so mean.  I was sucked into being mean at times. I’m not proud of part of my younger self.  In elementary school, there was a young girl named Melanie in my class who was very overweight.  She had freckles, flushed cheeks, and red poofy hair….which made her the easiest target for everyone.  She wore a Beam Me Up Scotty shirt….not Star Trek but the paper towel. I remember taunting her under the monkey bars because she couldn’t hold herself up.  I play over scenarios in my head all the time like what if instead of taunting Melanie I’d said:

Hi Melanie, I have this urge to make fun of you. But just so you know, it’s not that I really have a problem with you, it’s that for a split second…. I thought that making fun of you might make me feel better about myself because, well,  I’m feeling really insecure. You see, another girl, who I really wanted to be friends with totally dissed me today.


Hi Melanie, I think it’s really cool that your mom sent in that rebate for the Beam Me Up Scotty shirt.  My mom buys the other brand of paper towels….probably because they are the most inexpensive. We don’t really have a lot of money either.


Hi Melanie, I think it’s awesome that you live on a farm.  I had a duck once, but it died. I can’t imagine having all the ducks and chickens that I wanted. It must be like Christmas everyday.


Hi Melanie, Guess what? I suck at the monkey bars too…..mostly because I have no coordination and my arms resemble awkward little pipecleaners.  I guess I thought if I made fun of YOU it would deflect the attention off of me. Want to help me make the world’s longest clover chain during recess today?


And all of that makes me think about the “butterfly effect”…..and how one action can have such enormous implications…..but I’ll stop there because then this post would turn into a book.


I always tell Boo that when someone is mean to her: it’s their problem….not hers. But it’s not an easy concept for children to understand. I think what I love most about the homecoming story is that so many people in the community stepped up… make things right.

Last week Boo had an emotional week at school. One day she threw the teacher’s penguin in the air and broke the overhead light. Accidents happen but it scared the beejeezus out of her. The same day she broke a hula hoop (long story) and had to go to the Principal’s office. When she got in the car at the end of the day she was devastated…like it was the end of the world: I had to go to the principal’s office. Daddy is going to be so mad. Let me tell him Mommy.

And I told her:

We’ll never be disappointed in you……as long as you take responsibility.

If you make things right, you don’t have to feel bad about it anymore.

You release it: *poof*

So we went to Target, and she bought a new hula hoop for the school with money from her piggy bank. And she was so proud… much lighter.


She couldn’t wait for school the next morning to present it to the principal and tell her how sorry she was.


Make Good Choices via


Boo’s teacher told me yesterday that she had to tell Boo 3 times to do something….and told her she’d give her ONE extra chance before Boo’s behavior card turned yellow for the day. When they got back into the classroom, her teacher noticed that Boo’s card was yellow….and the teacher hadn’t turned it. When asked about it, Boo said “I turned it yellow myself….because I disobeyed you.”  When I asked her about it after school she said “I took responsibility….just like Daddy always tells me to.” Seriously? Can I freeze time at this one moment?

It just reiterated that all I want in life is for my child to do what’s right.  I don’t care about the grades. I don’t care about the awards. I don’t care about the achievements. I really don’t.  My parents didn’t place that pressure on me. They just let me know that they had high expectations for me to do the right thing. When I was younger, even if my report card read: A, D, C, A, F my mother would write “GREAT JOB!” and post it on the refrigerator for the world to see.  And my dad wouldn’t say a word. I knew he wanted all A’s…..but he also knew that I knew that I could have done better.  So why did he need to say anything? It would have just made me feel bad. What good does that do? Every once in a while he’d offer to raise my allowance if I made better grades…..and sometimes it worked….but it was totally up to me. I was accountable to myself.


Here’s what I want for Boo:

I want her to be humble.

I want her to be compassionate.

I want her to be curious.

I want her to speak up.

I want her to be respectful.

I want her to be accountable.

I want her to know that the world doesn’t owe her a thing.


Which means as a parent I must:

Be humble.

Be compassionate.

Be curious.

Speak up.

Be respectful.

Be accountable.

Know that the world doesn’t own me a thing.


(Mr. LBB wanted to add: I want her to be a mathlete and never go on a date.)

Every morning, when Boo goes off to school she’s told: We love you. Make good choices today.


My flight to San Francisco two days ago was delayed so there was a lot of waiting in the airport. An elderly man was sitting across from me and would periodically talk to his neighbor. I took out my iPhone and laptop to do some work and I heard him say quietly: You know, these kids these days….they all have iPhones. They all have iPads. It’s just expected. They get anything they want. They don’t have a work ethic. They don’t realize they won’t have any social security.

When the man sitting next to him left I leaned forward and said: I agree with you. He was hard of hearing and so he leaned forward with hand around his ear and I said louder so the entire row could probably hear “I AGREE WITH YOU.” We talked for a while, mostly about his Jitterbug phone and his failing eyesight. He warned me about identity theft a few times. And when we started to board the plane I said:

I guess I just wanted you to know that I don’t expect anything from anyone. Ever. And I hope that leaves you with a little hope about people my age.

I’m not even sure he heard what I actually said but he nodded and with his thick German accent replied: Good girl. And it was kind of like he was saying “make good choices.

And then that was that.



  1. says

    Seriously couldn’t have said it better myself. Raising your kids,especially in this time and era, is ridiculously hard. Sounds to me like you are doing an amazing job. Your parents did it right, and so will you. I love reading your blog :) thanks!!

  2. Toqua's Crafts says

    What awesome parents your are! What an awesome daughter you have as well. I had not seen the story about the homecoming court. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. says

    Thanks for your post. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself today about what a bad parent I feel like sometimes. But you summed up exactly what I am trying to teach my girls. So I guess I’m not so bad afterall. Thanks for the uplift. (By the way, what is it about us redheads that make us targets of bullying anyway? It’s a mixed message. As kids, we’re told we’re ugly and as adults people can’t stop complimenting. Seriously lame. I’m not judging – there are plenty of things I regret doing as a kid too. I’m really just wondering.)

  4. Mary says

    Thank you! I was bullied SO much throughout school and even though I knew how much it hurt, I often turned right around and did it to someone else. I’m scared to death to be a parent!

  5. Tleshia Farrar says

    Oh Ashley, I’m sitting here in tears because we have had a hard transition into 1st grade. My bean has had a hard time with some little girls being mean to her because of her zeal for life and bubbly personality. In turn, my bean made some really bad choices in the attempts to “fix it” in her little mind. I’m actually reading a book right now called Little Girls can be mean, which speaks to what you were saying that happened to you as a child on the playground. Brent and I are like you, we want the same things for our bean the awards and grades we could care less about. We also tell her to make wise choices everyday. I will be praying for sweet Boo to continue to make wise choices and for our children to be curious and kind to their fullest extent. :-) I so needed to hear someone that I respect as a parent is going through almost the exact same thing. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Susan says

    I haven’t finished reading yet but had to comment after the yellow card. My kids are going to be watching nothing but Little House on the Prairie because Boo totally pulled a Laura Ingalls!!! Love it.

  7. Adriana M. says

    My niece is 11 this year but due to a medical condition her body is physically delayed to the point where she is just losing her baby teeth and wearing the same size clothes as her 4 year old sister. Since we have started public schools this year it makes her an easy target for teasing. On Friday the teacher asked to meet with me when I picked Aurora up. I was worried because Aurora can be rambunctious and easily distracted in class. But the teacher informed me that it wasn’t about any negative behavior. She said another child had come up and told her Aurora was being teased by a group of classmates. She pulled Aurora aside and asked if it was true. She told her teacher what the kids had been saying to her. “The Kindergarten class is down the hall, did you get lost” “where did you find your shoes, Babies R us?” “Isn’t this slide too big for you? The preschool playground is over there. Hher teacher told her that whenever she was having a problem with other students she could come to her and she would take care of it. To which my niece replied “that’s alright. It hurts my feelings a little but then I just remember that I might be small, they are the smaller person for teasing me for something I can’t help.” Her teacher said she was floored hearing that from a student. It makes me feel proud and I hope if she is ever pressured into bullying she remembers this year and that she is a bigger person than that.

  8. SARAH says

    I loved this too. I think so often parents forget to “practice what they preach.” I know I’m guilty of that! Thanks and God Bless!

  9. Coni R says

    I never miss your blog. I am old enough to be your mom, and yet I learn so much from you. Thank you for your wisdom and for sharing these personal experiences. I am better prepared as a grandmother now than I was as a mother.

  10. Melissa says

    I love that you post things sharing that Boo is not always perfect. I find people don’t talk about that their kids got “on yellow” and it makes parents whose kid sometimes winds up on “red” feel isolated. Sounds like you are doing a great job.

  11. says

    We are so much alike when it comes to kids. We tell our kids all of the time to make good choices. Be nice to others, because you don’t know their real story, and to keep joy in their hearts every day. It’s kind of tough going to school in the same town (and sometimes school) where your dad teaches, and the fact that BOTH parents are teachers, but I’m hoping they feel more pressure to touch hearts than nurture than brains…I was never critiqued on report cards either….of course 5 kids kep Mom busy. but I think I turned out ok.

  12. says

    This post said so many wonderful things I needed to hear. This brought me to tears, “If you make things right, you don’t have to feel bad about it anymore.” Thank you for this post

  13. Michelle says

    I approached a parent at a playground once and told him his son was keeping my daughter from using the slide and even kicked her. He simply took his son and moved to a different table. No accountability, no apology. The thing that saddened me the most was that the parent didn’t take responsibility or teach that lesson to his child. I know kids will be kids and that at any moment I could be on the other side of the conversation, so knowing that yet one more child was missing out on a teaching moment, I was at a loss of what to do.

    So reading your list of what you want for your daughter, it made me think, “Wow, someone else gets it.” Thank you for spreading this philosophy, because now so many more people might be inspired to raise responsible children!

    Beautiful post, beginning to end.

  14. Beth says

    Wow. I read your blog every day but never comment. Today I have to because this was such an amazing post. Absolutely puts into words what I hope for my children. Thank you.

  15. says

    Love it. And when Boo is approaching 21, like my “baby” is, you’ll look back at this point in time and be ever so thankful that you taught her the way you did. Because even though you’ll have days (and weeks, and months, and years during the teenage I-wish-I-could-skip-this-part time of her life), you will see that all of these lessons will gradually start to come to the fore. And she will make you prouder than you ever thought you could be.
    Thank you for sharing.

  16. Shannon O says

    I have both loved and been moved by so many of your posts, but I think this is my favourite. My children are so important to me and I think each day about how I can teach them lessons, while letting them be themselves. You nailed it in this post. Thank you for putting it into words. <3

  17. Kere says

    Boo <3<3 She's great, eh!

    And you…wow, you meet the most amazing people and have such meaningful interactions with them. Thank you for writing about them.
    I can't tell if it is YOU or if it is just timing in life that you have these experiences!
    Sweet either way!

    So glad I found your blog so long ago! Thanks for being you!

  18. Madi W. says

    Boo is such a sweet kid! I wish everyone was like that! There are so many mean kids at my school… I heard the other day a couple of them were making fun of a retarded kid. And they did it to his face and the retarded boy laughed because he didn’t understand what they were saying. So very sad. I wish those kids had parents like you!


  19. christina w says

    just wanted to say I love, love this post. I try and tell me kids every day to make good choices, be kind to others because kindness goes so very far. With my three kids having a parent going through cancer and treatments this summer they have seen so much kindness and caring from others I am trying so very hard to have them learn to pay this kindness forward to others.

  20. Anne says

    I was mean to a particular girl in elementary school, then had the tables turned on me after we moved to a different city when I was in 8th grade. Several years ago, I tracked down the girl from my elementary school through her parents and wrote her a letter of apology. It meant the world to her and we exchanged letters and pictures a few times. It felt so good to let take responsibility for the pain I’d caused and, by apologizing, I rose above the people who teased me in high school and who haven’t bothered to do the same for me. Maybe you could encourage readers with similar experiences to seek out the people from their childhood who are on their hearts and say I’m sorry. It’s amazingly freeing for all parties involved.

  21. Cary says

    I had a girl in Jr High extremely mean to me, to where I would go to the principals office and have her walk me out so this girl wouldn’t do anything to me, it was humiliating at times.
    And now we are older and have found each other on FB and I asked her why she was so mean to me and her response was “was I? I don’t remember”..! Wow, the friend request was quickly deleted.

  22. Pat says

    Thank you – for the inspiration you shower on your blog, for the hope you give through the devastating trials and fears of life and for the values you live and share with Boo and the world.

  23. Krista says

    I absolutely love “I want her to know that the world doesn’t owe her a thing.” I think this is something many people need to learn. This is exactly how I want my son to grow up, you must work hard for what you get, nobody owes you anything, you owe yourself everything. Thanks for the great post!

  24. says

    I got all choked up when Boo turned that yellow card herself. Great parenting!! I’m sure you’re raising her right and best you can. Let’s raise great people!

  25. Liz says

    I really, really needed to read this today. Both my kids are struggling in school in one way or another and I am fighting that internal dialogue that I heard as a kid… “you can do better…”, “work harder… “, “focus more”, “you have so much potential…” I had “potential” as if I hadn’t yet even come close to reaching my potential. Thank you for reaffirming that knowledge in me that life is SO MUCH MORE than what happens in 1st and 3rd grades… or even the upper grades. There is SO MUCH MORE. Thank you!

  26. Jenn says

    Loved this post so much that I had to comment twice. :) no, seriously, you are inspiring me to write a letter to my kids about what I hope I’m teaching them. I’m not proud of my younger self, either. I’ve learned a lot over the years and I hope I can pass on these improved traits on to them through my words and actions. Awesome job, mama. You are an inspiration. Xoxo