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Renee: Love notes in the lunch box

Posted October 16, 2019 9:00 p.m. EDT

Renee Chou writes her daughters notes each day.

I’ve started a daily ritual with my daughter now that she’s a kindergartner. When Elsa opens her lunch box, there is a bright, neon-colored Post-it note from me, stuck inside, with a message that I hope puts a smile on her face.

I wrote the first note for her first day of kindergarten. Here she was going to a whole new school, a “big girl school.” I wanted to place something in her bag that she could open as a surprise; a little something to let her know how much we love her, how proud we are of her; something to mark this new chapter in her life. I failed to get her a tasty treat. But I did have Post-it notes in the kitchen, so I wrote out a quick note to her, and slipped it in her lunch box.

When she came home after that first day of school, she told me, “Mommy! I read your note! Thank you. I loved it!” (Her reading skills are coming along nicely.)

And that was that. I knew I had to keep doing it.

I try to write it the night before, once she’s in bed. I’ll go downstairs, clean out her lunchbox, set it on the counter, and then compose a note. Some nights are busy, and I’ll forget. But then I’’ll always remember in the early mornings when I’m preparing my own lunch before I go to work. So far this school year, I have not yet forgotten to write a note for her lunchbox.

During her first week of school, I tried to be positive and encouraging:

“Elsa: Do your best today! Have an amazing day and shine bright!”

“Try to talk to someone you’ve never talked to before. You may make a new friend!”

“Don’t give up! Try, try and try again. You can do it!”

Some of the notes reflected my gratitude:

“Elsa: Thank you for making me smile and laugh every day! You are pure joy. Have an AWESOME day!”

“Elsa: You are a ray of sunshine! Shine bright today! We love you!”

And sometimes the notes are simply mini-pep talks-- reminders of what we all need to hear at times:

“To my sweet Elsa: You are brave. You are strong. You are smart. You are so loved! Have a great day!”

I admit—sometimes I’m not very inspired. When a pithy, motivational mantra fails to come to me, I try to write from the heart. Some notes start to sound similar. But that’s OK. I’m committed to taking a few minutes every school night to compose something I know can help brighten her day. When I think of that—and how wonderful she is and what a joy she is to us—the note then writes itself.

When we come home after school, I unpack her lunchbox and the note is always still there. I started putting the sticky notes in a kitchen drawer— then found a plastic container to corral them. Keeping those handwritten messages in the hopes that one day, she might like to read them again—words of encouragement, advice, gratitude and love squeezed onto colorful, 3” x 3” pieces of paper.

“Elsa: There is no one else in the world like you! And that makes you special. Love you!”

Renee Chou, WRAL-TV morning anchor, is the mother of one. You can find her monthly on Go Ask Mom and all of the time on her Facebook page.