Paper Bag Theme of the Day

Something for their mouths–and minds–to chew on.

Anyone who looks at my author page on facebook knows that I love quotes. Excerpts of poems or plays or speeches or movies or manifestos. They’re mollifying, inspiring, comforting, motivating. From Mister Rogers to Rumi, Sun Tzu to Shakespeare, the observations and emotions that other (wiser) people have distilled into a few words are like mini therapy sessions. Those dense chunks of wisdom can provide answers to some of my most challenging questions, provoke dormant emotions, confirm opinions I didn’t know I had. Their assertions about life and its complications have helped me shape mine.

My kids are still young, so most of the wisdom (if you can call it that) they are starting to acquire comes from their family members. My father, for example, has a wonderful collection of bite-sized advice that he taught me and is now teaching his grandchildren. Here’s one of my favorites:

“The hardest turn to make when flying an airplane—or flying through life—is 180 degrees.”

I don’t have my own set of original aphorisms to pass down. Maybe because I haven’t thought carefully enough about what it is that I know, or maybe it’s because I don’t really know all that much. But I want my kids to enjoy the same kind of buzz I get when I read a great quote, one that can inspire them to better think, empathize, learn, love. One that will set a positive tone for the day. So I started a collection of age-appropriate quotes that I write on their paper snack bags on school days.

I didn’t make a big deal about it; I didn’t even know if they bothered reading them when they dug the sacks out of their backpacks at snack time. But I thought, it’s the equivalent of a kiss in the middle of the night when they’re already asleep; they may not be consciously aware of it, but somehow it might get absorbed into the sleepy recesses of their minds.

One Monday a couple of weeks ago, I overslept. Not by much, but enough that I didn’t have time to write on their paper bags. “But Mom,” my daughter said. “What’s my quote of the day?”

Lo, it works! Needless to say, I haven’t let that happen again. (And I’ve also been inspired to deliver more middle-of-the-night kisses, just in case.) I need to go search for more wit and wisdom for their Friday snacks, but before I go, I leave you with a quote from one of my non-literary heroes. It’s a good one, and maybe I’ll put it on both their bags tomorrow:

“As you think, so shall you become.” ~Bruce Lee