growing up · growth mindset · OT · preschool · slice of life · speech

A Letter to Isabelle

Isabelle and I attended her new preschool's open house this afternoon. It took awhile, but eventually she was comfortable enough to start playing alongside a friend.
Isabelle and I attended her new preschool’s open house this afternoon. It took awhile, but eventually she was comfortable enough to start playing alongside a friend.

I’ve been recuperating from the surgery I had on August 12th. I haven’t written since August 11th. Earlier today my father told me, “you’re back to reality now. Start writing again.” (Thanks for the tough love, Dad!) So here I am.

I’m taking some inspiration from a piece Dana Murphy shared on Facebook last weekend.  It was written by Glennon Doyle Melton. I read it as her way of preparing herself to have a conversation with her son about being compassionate to others.  And it reminded me of a conversation I want to have with Isabelle before she starts her second year of preschool this week.  In fact, this conversation has been on my mind ever since I overheard her say, “He holds his marker like a baby,” about one of her peers after she learned how to properly hold a writing utensil this past March.  She starts school on Thursday so here’s my letter to Isabelle (which I’ll use as fodder for the conversation I will have with her tomorrow).

Dear Isabelle,

You start preschool this week. Well, one of the two. The other one starts after Labor Day. I can’t believe you’re going to be out of the house, doing some type of school, every weekday this school year. Sometimes I wonder if it’s too much school for a four-and-a-half-year-old… But you love your first preschool so hopefully you’ll love the second one too.

But that’s not what I want to discuss. Instead, I want to talk to you about struggling and kindness.

Struggle is defined as proceeding with difficulty or with great effort. I hated to watch you struggle to crawl, to stand, to walk, and — most of all — to talk. Things haven’t come easily for you.  You’ve exerted great effort to attain every goal you have reached.  And while I could look at those struggles as weakness, I’ve reframed them in my mind. You have an excellent work ethic.  You’re tenacious.  You have grit.  And that’s why you’ve been able to overcome your struggles.

I know you will continue to struggle with things in school.  And that is okay.  Everything happens for you. However, things often happen later than they do for your peers.  And while you might have to work harder to attain things that come naturally to other kids, I’ve come to believe it will make you a stronger adult since you’ll know what it is like to work diligently to do something.

You’ve overcome so much in the past two and a half years since your CAS diagnosis.  I am so proud of everything you’ve accomplished in speech and in OT.  And while I know you’ll have to continue to work at things, I know some things may actually be easier for you (e.g., using scissors, imaginative play, following classroom rules) than they will be for some of your peers who haven’t had as much practice as you at doing some of those things.  And that is okay.  Just because someone cannot do something you can do doesn’t mean they are a “baby.”  All it means is they haven’t mastered that skill yet.

It is important to stay calm if someone’s actions, behaviors, or habits annoy you. Trust me, I know from experience, that’s really hard to do.  But part of being a good friend is being patient.  And part of being patient is being a kind person.  Instead of making someone feel bad if they cannot do something as well as you, you can show them how to do it (if they want your help).  And if they don’t want your help, you can play together or do something together both can do.  We want to make our friends feel good.  Being sweet towards others usually makes people happy.

When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.

I hope you’ll be the kind of person who chooses to be kind, especially when you see a friend struggling.  That’s what I’d want for you if you were struggling.  I hope you’ll choose kind, again and again and again.

I hope this year is filled with happiness and growth. I look forward to watching you develop into a confident five-year-old this school year.  I hope life hands you an easier path — one that’s not riddled with struggles — in the years to come.  But if it doesn’t, I will be your biggest supporter — always.



Head over to for more slices of life.
Head over to for more slices of life.

21 thoughts on “A Letter to Isabelle

  1. How NICE (!) to be kind, always. It is important that we all teach this when students are young. My granddaughter is 3, and I’ve been reading to her and talking to her a lot about being kind to others. She started preschool yesterday! Have a great school year!

  2. Choosing kind is always the right action to take but providing your 4.5 year old with the tools to choose kind is part of good parenting. I always love your Isabelle stories. This one will be a cherished memory for her when she grows up.

  3. I’ve missed your voice. I’m glad your father pointed you in this direction and I’m sure you have realized that is feels good, normal, and right. Isabelle is so blessed to have you as a mom.

  4. It is important to learn this along with all the other things young children learn at this age. What a thoughtful and loving letter Stacey. I hope this means that your surgery was a big success, too. Welcome back to writing!

  5. What a powerful and thoughtful message you’ve crafted for your daughter! Glad to see your writing again and hope your recuperation is going smoothly!

  6. Isabelle is lucky to have you for a mommy. This letter says so much about the path you’ve traveled with her. I love that you point out that friends are kind and want to make each other feel good. Hurray for your dad who pointed you back to writing. It’s good to hear from you.

  7. “But part of being a good friend is being patient. And part of being patient is being a kind person”

    Such wise and beautiful words.

  8. Aaaah, Stacey! This brought tears to my eyes. I love how you worked the concept of struggle into this while reminding her to choose kind. She’s had many reminders and models of kindness already – she sees you. 🙂

  9. You expressed your thoughts so well, Stacey. What a great way to prepare yourself for the conversation. Be well!

  10. I loved this letter! What I loved most is that your daughter is a fighter and I do believe as you that struggles in life make us stronger! Awesome message…

  11. Thank you for this. I am in the thinking process of making sure the school library has quotes about kindness throughout. I love this letter to your daughter, I can imagine when she’s old enough to read it and understand your words, so fortunate to have a mom like you.

  12. So good to hear your voice again. My husband writes letters to our kids at pivotal moments. I think it is such a wise act. You noticing this with Isabelle at such an early age is perceptive and reflective. It’s so hard to see our children clearly. Teaching her this tolerance and kindness early will benefit her immeasurably.


  13. It is a big conversation, Stacey…and probably will boil down to a sentence or two for Isabelle in reality, right? In Newtown, that’s our mantra now…’Choose Kind.’ I wish everyone was sending their child out the door with those last words in their head. And as for Isabelle’s struggles…she is so lucky to have you to be there to
    advocate for her! Having followed a similar path with one of mine…grit is the most important ingredient for success! My guy is 27 and is out in the world with a good job that requires a great deal of talking and grit…kindness! Keep faith!

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