Be the Hand

Be the Hand

A new school year begins. We return to a building they are familiar with. I feel spoiled by our teacher assignment. My children like to learn. They have good friends and have had a rather easy time making new ones. These blessings are not lost on me.

I had a fairly ordinary education and childhood growing up in a small town – the town I was born and raised in – in regard to the stew of a school shenanigans. I was a bit quite in groups, most comfortable with close friends. I was a late bloomer, still built like a stick when my friends’ frames began to curve. This was fair game for catching heat at both ends: some boys, already victim to the societal imprint of expectations placed upon girls and physical form, extended an impression of inadequacy; some girls could be bitter about my unchanged figure, a yet untouched youth, a familiar comfort left behind in the awkward years of change they were now forced to navigate in puberty. There were times when my house was too nice, my clothes weren’t nice enough (brand is a wicked game), my teeth were wonky, my nose the wrong shape, I didn’t feel that way about boys, and a number of other juvenile offenses.

“Your back looks just like your front.”

“Hey, Toucan.”

“This seat is saved for…”

I’d consider it standard childhood grooming; a few things left a raised smooth burn scar, no longer sensitive to the touch but visible enough to remember. Perhaps these brief brushings instilled me with just enough of a taste of the abrasive receiving side of unkindness to know I wanted to avoid causing it myself, to lean heavy empathetic to anyone considered an underdog, or on the outside: an illusive space branded by a random grouping of kids that somehow posed with just enough power to fool us into it meaning something. It means nothing.

Unfortunately it isn’t that smooth for everyone. Some fight a private battle every single day. I witnessed it. I wonder if I did enough? I wonder where I could have been braver with my words and actions, separated myself from situations I witnessed that made me feel uncomfortable on one’s behalf? I wonder if anyone felt my sympathy and extension in the warm, relieved in the way I have felt hands extended to me?

Our back-to-school conversations, the babes and I, are about being the hand. I just want them to be the hand.

Cast your gaze and a smile to the one who feels invisible. Offer a lift to the one who stumbles. Be the voice for one whose words have been shoved down too deep to retrieve on their own. Speak the compliment that makes one feel seen and wonderfully adequate. Encourage the one who doubts. Share with the one who is lacking. Be the brave, take the risk, and make a contribution.

Listen to the twinge inside, the feeling churning in your gut upon recognizing inequality and make any little difference you can. When you witness mistreatment among friends, show a buddy how much better it can feel to offer kindness and inclusion than to act poorly to “save face”. It’s not a face to save.

Extend love and grace to those who may not have shown it to you. They need it even more. You will feel when you have extra to offer. We are here to share volume between cups. When yours is brimming tip it into another’s nearby.

No matter our age or where our lives take us, I think we’re looking for a hand. We’re grateful for someone, something that makes you feel real and safe just for showing up in your skin, for offering yourself to a collection of people, for someone to tether you to your worthiness, the room, the community, the world.

Different people will offer hands in different ways throughout your life. Some will be friends. Some will be strangers. I hope one will be you, too.

Your opportunities are plenty. A school full of people is ensuring your experience. Your curriculum will be rich. You will do the best You. I’m less concerned with your scores and your rank. Your teachers are accomplished and amazing and I fully trust them with your education. Raising a kind human being is on me.

Please, be the hand.


  1. Love.

  2. Wow! Thumbs up! :)

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