You’ve Got Mail

You know the one.
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It’s a hushed version of Angry Voice, because your patience is worn out, your house is in transition between Sandy Lazy Summer and hyper-organized School is in Session, your kids have no more concept of Indoor Voice and are whining/fighting/tattling more than you thought was humanly possible.

Everyone’s been all up in everyone else’s grill for far too long, and it’s not quite as easy to communicate. You’re all on edge, and it isn’t pretty.

Last month, my six-year-old daughter wanted to make mailboxes.

I dug out a few small cardboard boxes, cut slits in them, and pulled out our most fancy stickers.

These bedazzled mailboxes kicked around the living room and basement playroom for a while, then ended up placed on the floor just outside our bedroom doors.

And mail began to appear.

Love notes, apologies, thank-yous and more.

My kids would have something on their minds, and would tell us on scraps of paper, crumpled notebook pages, and even some nice stationary they swiped from my office (without permission).

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Soon they started getting mail, too.

What we’re thinking, what we’re proud of, quick I love yous.

Another line of communication has been opened wide. One that gives us a moment to think about our words before saying them. One that lets our loved ones’ words resonate in the privacy of the moment.

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What started out as a craft, then a game, turned into something quiet and helpful. Has retied the ribbons of our family knot tighter.

Sometimes it’s the little things that get us back on track, right at the very moment we need it.

Each time new mail arrives, I appreciate the reminder to stop, listen, and reply to the three most important people in my life.

(Even when it’s written on my very favorite stationary one of those people stole from my office.)

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At the elementary school my children attend they have a special ceremony at the end of the school year they call “stepping back.” All the kids in one grade hold hands and get in a big line stretched across the quad, and then when it’s their turn they all take a giant step back, which symbolically makes room for the lower grade to take their place.