When I was in elementary school I had a red Ghostbusters Lunchbox. It was one of those 80’s/90’s infamous lunch boxes, probably worth some money today, that every cold-lunch toting student had. Each told a story. On the outside it probably carried the picture of something you found value in, a show, cartoon or character. On the inside, a daily changing story based on whatever was packed to offer you nutrients to survive the rest of your school day.
At some point I graduated to a blue (my favorite color) lunch sack. Although not as fun as maybe Ghostbusters, but definitely something I probably thought was more fitting, or cooler for my advancing age and school years. Both the sack and my Ghostbusters box did their jobs - carrying lunch. They were part of the needed supplies to grow (physically and educationally) through my school days. Back then we also made the annual trip to the store for other supplies - folders, pencils, paper, and can someone say TrapperKeepers? Oh how I miss a TrapperKeeper!
Together with back-2-school clothes and shoes these all were pieces in a grander journey. The tools needed to be successful at this next stage or phase of life. Today as my son has returned for his final year in elementary school the needed supplies have changed, but the underlying purpose of back-2-school time has not. Lunch boxes, bags and sacks all still tell stories and create identities. A pair of new shoes or glasses may each do their part to help him and classmates alike take their next steps.
I pause to think about my time as a student but also the current times for students, of all ages. What stories are they creating - not only with their lunchbox, but with their choices, with the circumstances around them. I’d say my Ghostbuster lunch days seem like a much simpler time, but maybe that is the perspective difference between the ages? I pause to think, what tools and supplies are we making available to today’s students? What will they remember and write about 20 or 30 years from now?
As a parent and Youth & Young Adults Coach I want to make sure we’re being intentional in the tools we lay out for our students. How we best equip and empower them to be story creators and leaders today matters. We cannot pass this off until next week, next year or longer. We know more today than in any other generation and yet there is still much more to explore. Let’s take the stories of our past, the tools we have available for students today and help them be the authors and leaders of their story today.
Each of us at some point in our lives have been back-2-school shopping. Each has our own stories, highs and lows, of our experiences in and through our school years. Bottom line it’s those stories, these experiences, that make us who we are. In all the noise of being a kid today, I’m just going to say it, it’s harder to be a youth today than it was yesterday. Yes, they can ask Siri or Google for help on homework when we’re not looking (we still know). They can utilize technology in ways that help reach further and faster.
What I know - and am still learning, especially working alongside my friend and colleague Dax - is we must step up and allow today’s youth to lead. At Leadership Harbor we continue to discover new ways to clear this path while equipping our youth. Whether you sent a child back to school this year or not it is your responsibility - that’s right, yours, mine and everyone else’s responsibility - to put the right “lunchbox”, aka tools, in their hands and then step back and watch the stories they will tell as they lead. You can start by pointing them to our Youth Resources
Now, go pack your lunch and make it a great day!