Many years ago, a good friend of mine mentioned she was working on a project for each of her four sons. The project she shared included a book by Dr. Seuss called, "Oh The Places You'll Go." It is a wonderful story about the promise of the doors of life opening, the opportunity for a terrific journey if YOU choose to make it so. My friend's project centered around asking each teacher (from kindergarten through high school) to write a tribute about her son at the end of each school year. Gail (my friend) told me about this project when my oldest son was in high school and my younger sons were in various stages of elementary school, so it was too late for me to follow suit.
But I thought it was a terrific idea, so I put my own spin on it...I am sharing it with you because maybe my project will inspire you to create your own special keepsake for a child in your life.
What I did with the storybook was to pass it around to all of our family, close family friends, and any person with a significant influence on my child's life (ie: teacher, coach, employer, religious leader). I bought the book during their junior year of high school so it had time to circulate and the individual had time to put thought into signing the book. Mom and Dad received the honor of a special spot on the inside front cover, of course.
To date I have completed the project twice. The first time around it was a bit easier because we lived in Wisconsin, near much of our family. The book's impact on my eldest son Nick can be nutshelled by saying he took it with him when he went into treatment for alcohol addiction. I think the idea of having had so many people write positive messages to him in the past enhanced his desire to live a healthier life.
Allen-Michael's book took more time to finish because it had to be sent from Texas to Wisconsin to California to South Carolina (just to get through the family). His book traveled to college with him for two years, and is currently in his suitcase (as he travels the country facilitating Catholic retreats for middle and high school aged students, a chosen nine month mission).
Next year it will be time for me to pick up another copy of Dr. Seuss's tale for my son Brigham. The longer we live in Texas, apart from much of the family, the more difficult I think it will be for those far from his daily life to write personally to him. Yet I know how much the gift has meant to his older brothers, so I will absolutely do it again in the hopes our family understands the importance of sharing their thoughts on venturing out into the world.
Dr. Seuss's message is one of urging the reader to challenge themselves throughout life's journey...which is an important reminder for all of us to internalize, but especially so for those coming of age in today's complex world!