By Kelly Hines

I believe that all end of year festivities should be moved to February, when no one has anything going on.

I believe that teacher gifts should be limited to big piles of cash, collected by the entire school and distributed evenly. Let them go buy their own monogrammed bag or coffee mug, if that’s what they want. Or, let them spend it on wine and chocolate, like sensible people.

I believe that testing should be designed, administered, and graded by teachers. And that teachers, and only teachers, should determine if a student is proficient.

I believe that lunches should be provided by schools, on a sliding scale according to ability to pay. I believe that things like ‘Italian Dunkers’ and ‘Smiley Potatoes’ and ‘RaZZleBeRrY Surprise’ should be abolished. I believe in salad bars.

I believe in recess and P.E. and stand up desks and those funny balls that you can sit on and FIELD DAY. I really believe in Field Day. I believe that you and I couldn’t sit still for an hour, so why should we expect a six year old to do so?

I believe in Awards Day, even when my kid doesn’t get an award. I also believe in recognition. In a world where some kids don’t get enough to eat, or get their clothes or bodies washed with regularity, or get enough love to make it through the day – sometimes you need to be recognized for just showing up.

I believe that you’re a jerk if you smoke with your kids in the car. Stop it.

I believe in summer learning loss. I also believe that you can probably stave it off with a few good books, time spent outside, and a lot of family field trips.

I believe in lemonade stands, even though every time my kids ask to do one (which is daily), I want to punch myself. I believe in giving them a box of coins and a pitcher of chalky lemonade and sticking them outside for an afternoon. I believe in letting them figure out how to make change and to interact with strangers and what to spend their earnings on.

I believe that folks need to worry less about what my daughter is wearing, and more about why they’re so bothered by it. I believe that if my daughter is such a distraction to your son, maybe you need to talk to him about it, and let my kid wear a tank top. It’s hot outside, and armpits need to breathe.

I believe we should all stop giving goody bags at birthday parties. Period.

I believe that no kid should miss spending a day catching frogs in the creek for a soccer game. Or baseball, or football, or cheerleading, or lacrosse, or anything else that requires us to trade in family life for an activity that likely won’t see them through middle school.

I believe that of all the things we are trying so desperately to teach our children, the one thing we are missing out on is kindness. Ask any fifth grade girl.

I believe in school uniforms. As a kid who never got the Reebok hightops I so desperately wanted, I know the unique pain of not having the right thing to wear. If you don’t understand this, see the paragraph above.

I believe that all kids are jerks sometimes. So are all adults. I believe it’s okay to teach our kids that they don’t have to like everyone, and that not everyone is going to like them. Then teach them to be nice, even when they don’t want to. Even when the other person is not.

I believe that we should let our kids resolve their own conflicts. Barring injury or serious issue, let them work it out. Teach them to self advocate with kids and adults alike. Stand behind them when they stand up for themselves, and for them when they can’t.

I believe that “Because I said so” is an adequate explanation. Why? Because I said so. (See what I did there?)

I believe that no teenager ever died from not being able to keep their phone in their room all night. Or not being able to use it at the dinner table. Or by having to make a phone call instead of text. Or by forgetting their Twitter password. Or, actually, by not having a phone at all.

I believe in church. I believe in letting my kids go with friends who worship differently than we do. I believe they’ll sort it out to their own end, with a greater understanding and love and tolerance.

I believe in my family. More than anything, I believe in them. In the middle of great joys and frustrations and laughter and tears, I hold fiercely to these people. Last night, I laid on the floor next to my feverish son, wiping his forehead with a cool cloth and covering his little back with kisses. My heart seized up and caught in my throat and I realized, for the thousandth time, that these people under my care are my everything, and my only thing.

When my children are grown and I am gone, I hope they remember lemonade stands and wrestling matches and a mother who believed in so many things. And when they are asked I hope more than anything, they respond – “My mom believed in me.”