Author, educator, and social leadership strategist, Michelle Icard creates emotional relief for tweens, parents, and educators by providing clear wisdom and pragmatic tools that ease stress and create connection during the middle school years. You can find Michelle online: Michelle in the Middle / Facebook / Twitter
A few days ago I got an email from a dear friend whose mother has been fighting cancer for the full 17 years I’ve known her, and is now in the hospital for her final stay. My friend describes watching her mother die after such a long, hard fight as “a blessing (and exhausting)”.
Her update included a link to the video “Leading with Lollipops” which her mother watched from her hospital bed and enjoyed. It moved me on many levels. On one hand, it resonated because this is exactly what I try to teach the kids who come through Athena’s Path & Hero’s Pursuit. I’ve pushed hard not to be perceived as an anti-bullying campaign, or a life skills program, even as character ed. We are building leaders in small yet significant ways that would blow your mind and fill your heart if you could hear these kids in their groups. Hyperbole alert? No.
On an even more personal level this hits me hard because magically, like most of you, I go through my days giving very little thought to death and when I’m forced to confront it, it slays me. My friend’s mother had a talent for loving her daughter’s friends whole heartedly. She welcomed us into her home, cleared a seat for us at her table, remembered the details of our insignificant stories, typed our names and addresses onto her Christmas card list, and folded us into her soft, big-bossomed hugs every time we saw her. Selfishly, inevitably, I think of my own passing. I long for a legacy like that of my friend’s mom: a stay-behind community for my children, one that wraps them up in their arms in memory of my own welcoming ways.
What a gift to have your friends loved by your parents. How can I do this for my children? One “yes, your friend can stay for dinner”, one sleep over, one cheer from the bleachers for the other team, one lollipop at a time.
See what I mean: Leading With Lollipops