Posts for courage

Dear Kids at School

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - August 30, 2016

Dear Kids at School,

I know that when you see my little girl, you notice all the ways she is different from you. You see her glasses and her funny walk. You notice that she talks fast and loud, that she grabs the stuff from your hands without asking, how she sometimes tells everybody what to do. You see that it doesn’t take much to make her cry or make her mad or make her break the rules.  You notice that she is different than you. A different race. Has a different kind of family. Gets pulled from class for special ed. Why is she so weird…right? That’s what you want to know. Why is she so different?

Well, these aren’t the only things that make her unique. If you look closely, she has other qualities that might be harder to see. When you say hi, she’ll never ever ignore you. She’ll never leave you outside her house and say you can’t come in to play. She’d never ever want you to feel forgotten. In fact, my girl goes out of her way to make everyone feel special all the time. It’s her superpower. At home, she likes to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush for me and leave it out. A little surprise for me to find at bedtime. She leaves me notes and treasures and drawings of hearts that I find all over the house.  When our dogs were scared of the doggy door, she invented a contraption to hold it open for them. The first time she rode a horse, she petted it and kissed it and thanked it for the ride. You see, my girl’s heart is bigger than the heart of most people. That’s what actually makes her different. She’s sweeter than most. We could all learn something from her.

Another superpower she has is courage. She’s braver than most. Did you know the school you all go to is her 5th school in 4 years? She had to be brave and start over with new classrooms, new teachers and new kids every time. She did the same thing with families. Can you imagine walking into the house of brand new parents when you were 6 years old? Seeing your new room for the first time and wondering what this life would be like? Learning to trust brand new mommies and let them take care of you? That’s what my girl did. She had the courage to start a whole new life in a brand new town.  She had to say good-bye to everyone and everything she knew before. These are big good-byes. She had to have the courage to feel all those sad feelings and let her heart break so it could start to heal.

I can’t end this letter without talking about how hard my daughter works. You know that math packet you just got for 2nd grade homework? The same page of problems that takes you 15 minutes, takes her an hour. Oh no…it’s not because she is dumb. It’s because she was born 4 months early. Totally not her fault! But when kids are born early, their brains don’t get enough time to grow so they learn differently. Can you believe she never gives up? She doesn’t get to. She just has to work harder and harder- yes, harder than you so that she can learn the same things. She also works hard at making friends. She didn’t get to see people being good to each other when she was little, so she didn’t learn about things like sharing or taking turns like you did. She works very hard at this. She has a coach who comes every week and helps her learn to play well. She’s getting better and better at it. She has to work harder than most kids to do things like chew her food, tie her shoes, or even understand directions the teacher gives her. Pretty much all day, she’s working super hard to do things that most of you can do with no problem.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could cheer her on? What would it be like if she knew you were rooting for her instead of teasing her or leaving her out? What if you could see her sweetness, her courage, how hard she works?  What if you could help her along instead of push her down? I bet you’d feel good about yourself then. You could be so proud to know you were a good friend and accepted someone who is different than you. It would mean the world to her and  you…well, you would get a lot out of it, too. When we open our hearts and act kindly, we get to be happy. We get to be connected. We get to have more fun. How does that sound? You with me?

I can’t wait to see what you decide to do.

All the best,

Go Girls! Co-Founder
Kidpower Instructor

P.S. Speaking of having more fun,  join me in Berkeley on Sept 25th and see me perform live on stage. I’ll be celebrating magic and power we all have to be ourselves. Go Girls!  New to my blog? Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

telling for blog post



What does it mean to be / Raising a black girl / While / Beyonce / Serves us / Lemonade?


Your teacher / Says / This class has / Too / Much / Drama / Going on
And indeed, it is very / Dramatic for one / Little / Girl / To say to another / “I’m going to cut your head off!”

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Pirate Day…or, Raising a Kid with Courage

Go Girl!, Love Wins - Allison Kenny - April 22, 2015

I have a bad feeling on the way to the optometrist’s office and I am right. The Squirrel suffers from an eye condition that many premature babies get and after 3 months of glasses, nothing has changed. Aggressive patching. That’s the next step for treatment. We cover her right eye with a patch to give the left eye some “quality time.” This means 4 hours a day with little to no vision.  I picture her bumping into furniture, her tears of frustration and even worse…that the patches won’t help and we’ll see a specialist who could diagnose eye disease, recommend surgery, etc. Luckily, a dear friend stated the obvious- “You and Lynn HAVE to get patches, too.” And just like that, all my fears were channeled into costume design and dramatic play. As it should be.

Pirate Day

I dig through our Go Girls! costume bin and come up with enough eye patches, hooks, head scarves, and jewelry for the whole family. I run to the store for pirate treasure (i.e- a Frozen hair brush and Doc McStuffins tattoos) and draw a treasure map.  I ask Lynn if she’s available to be a pirate from 2-3:00 and she clears her schedule. When the Squirrel comes home from school and sees the costume on her bed, she screams with excitement.  We all get ready and within moments our living room is a pirate ship and we are adding “Matey!” to the end of every sentence.

I hold the Squirrel in my lap while Lynn reads The Patch.  It’s about a little girl who also needs a patch and how she plays her way through it. I remind the Squirrel of what the doctor said the day before about helping her eye grow stronger. I show her the treasure map I made and how she can add one sticker to it for every hour she wears her patch. I show her the treasure chest of prizes and how she can choose one every time she gets 25 stickers. “I want to wear my patch now!” she says happily. I take a breath and slowly press her real, adhesive patch over her right eye.

The next few minutes break my heart. She is screaming and crying…”I can’t see! I can’t see!” She’s struggling to rip the patch off.  She is terrified and sobbing. My wife and I just stare at each other wondering how the hell we are going to do this every single day for 4 hours.

Lynn is a genius. “We’re right here with you,” she says. “You are facing a challenge right now and you’ll get through it.” Our friend and colleague, Christine Carter, writes in her new book, The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work, about how our brains respond to the idea of “facing a challenge.” The language activates a courageous response and can interrupt the temptation to be overwhelmed by fear.

Within moments, the Squirrel is calm. We encourage her to notice the colors and shapes around her…to feel her toys and see if she can figure out which ones they are.  We take the patch off for a while to hug and kiss and cheer her on. She gets to put a sticker on the treasure map.

Half an hour later, it’s time to try again. I expect a protest. Certainly, I would protest needing to wear a patch all day- just this fake pirate one is starting to make me nauseous. But my kid has a Ph.D. in resiliency. My kid is fierce. My kid has not given up in her life yet and this patch is just a patch. She literally screams in my face…”I AM READY FOR THIS CHALLENGE, MATEY!!!!!” and puts the patch on herself. We play pirates all afternoon.

Something tells me this kid is going to teach me a lot more about courage than I’m going to teach her.


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