In 2020, we sold our home, bought some land, packed away most of our belongings and moved to a new little town, with a new school, and into a camper. It’s been a wild transition to say the least, but one we felt would be right for our family. While it hasn’t been easy and it hasn’t been without bumps, it’s safe to say our kids have learned many valuable lessons over the last 1.5 years of transition.
One of the most valuable, yet hard, lessons has been understanding what it’s like to be the new kid in a town where many of the people have grown up together for years. Now that we are no longer the newest kids, I can see so much growth that came from those really hard first few days/months of school.
A few important lessons we’ve seen our kids learn:
- Initiate friendships … we tell our kids all the time, before we assume someone doesn’t want to play with us, give them a chance to say yes. It’s easy even as adults to run wild in your mind of all the ways we could get rejected. But what if you don’t? Give new people a chance to include you. Be confident in your ask to join in a game or sit at a table or ride next to them on a bus. Sure, someone might say no … but they also just might say YES!
- Be the friend you wanted on your first day … we aren’t the new kids anymore, but others will be and others were throughout the year. I have seen the growth in our kids to be more aware of someone sitting alone or looking sad, than ever before. We’ve tried to use every hard day or sad situation to reaffirm that you can’t control other people, but you can learn from their actions and do better when you’re given the chance. Being the new kid can be the best teacher for empathy and grace.
- Don’t change who you are to fit in … man, this is such a hard lesson and one I’m not sure we ever fully learn, even as adults. We all want to fit in, and being the new kid can lead to wavering on what you know is right, to try to gain friendships. Having “the new kid” can be an amazing time of really getting to watch your kids take ownership of the values you’ve instilled in them. Honestly, it didn’t start that way for us. It was a learning curve of a few bad decisions and hard lessons of why we don’t change who WE are to fit in with someone else. But watching it all click in the end, was a lesson worth learning.
Being the new kid, new employee, new family member or new anything is always a little scary. It’s full of unknowns and what-ifs; it can be debilitating or liberating. But if you are the new family in town with the new kid in school, be encouraged. Some of the best lessons our kids learned were on their hardest days. And those hard days became less and less until they were mostly all just good days. Being the new kid has taught ours to be confident in who they are, steadfast in what they believe, and to kind to everyone they meet. I pray it does the same for your new kids too!