Before I introduce you to Helen, I need to give you a bit of a back story. So, here goes….
My sweet Josephine, aka, JoJo—she never ceases to amaze me. She makes me shake my head in wonder, smile from the inside out, and laugh until I cry. The things she says and does are wise beyond her years and incredibly sweet, it literally takes my breath away. I could give you oodles of examples, but few would rival what I will call the “Helen incident’.
Jo started kindergarten this year. She was eager and excited to go and had lots to tell about after that monumental first day. But there was a fly in the ointment called ‘there are two other girls with the name of Josephine in my class’. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but as luck would have it, one liked to be called Josephine and the other went by…JoJo.
“I am not sure this will work,” she told my daughter, Emma. “I do not know if they are talking to me or her.”
Emma assured her it would be fine, but when she was emptying JoJo’s backpack, there was a note from the teacher asking if it would be possible for JoJo to go by her first name, which is Henley. “Would she object be being called Henley Jo?” the teacher asked. JoJo said that would be fine. She didn’t want the same name as all those other girls (her words.). Problem solved. Well, sort of.
Making the name change meant she would have to learn to write Henley Jo when writing her name. And that, is where Helen comes into the story.
A couple of days later, Emma was once again emptying JoJo’s backpack. She was pleased to see JoJo was doing a great job completing her worksheets. The only hiccup was that instead of writing Henley Jo, she was writing Heley Jo. Emma giggled to herself before calling JoJo over to talk about it.
“You’re doing great, Jo,” she said. “And Daddy and I are so proud of you for saying it is okay to call you Henly Jo. But I think you need to practice writing it a few times, because what you’ve written on all these papers looks like Helen.” JoJo didn’t hesitate for more than a second or two before shrugging her shoulders and saying, “Oh, well, I guess they can just call me Helen. Helen Jo.”
Emma couldn’t hold it in on that one. She let out a big laugh, wrapped JoJo in a hug, and said, “No, no they can’t. They can’t just call you Helen because that’s what you wrote. You have to learn to write Henley.”
“Okay, I guess I can,” she sighed…and grinned.
JoJo rarely even thinks about taking the easy way out. That’s just not her style. But this time she did. Most likely because she was a bit overwhelmed with all the new. New school. New friends. Oh, and did I mention she started school two days after moving from California to South Carolina?
No matter how much ‘new’ and ‘different’ there was going on, though, JoJo was not allowed to skate by. Being content with doing the bare minimum wasn’t an option.
It shouldn’t be for your kids, either. Don’t let them settle for barely passing grades when they are capable of more. Don’t let them settle for getting their clean laundry on top of the dresser when putting it in the drawer would take a whopping two minutes more of their time. Don’t let them settle for being too busy to feed and water the dog when it is their responsibility to do so. Don’t let them settle for leaving wet towels on the floor because they were too tired to put them in the laundry or hang them on the rack.
Don’t let them settle for anything less than what they are capable of or have their heart set on. Why? Because settling is the first and surest sign that they have given up. They are not hoping…dreaming…believing in themselves. No child should have to feel that way.
So, if your child ever shrugs their shoulders and says, “They can just call me Helen,” say, “No, no they cannot.”
Unless, of course, their name really is Helen.