A poem by newspaper columnist Dan Valentine which my dad set to music in the 1960’s, and we have updated on the Trey Ware Morning Show. I have posted it every on the first-day of school for many years. It’s for all moms and dads who are sending their sons and daughters off to school for the first time.
My son starts to school today.
It’s going to be sort of strange and new to him for awhile, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently, World. You see, up to now he’s been king of the roost – boss of the backyard.
His mother has always been near to soothe his wounds and repair his feelings.
But now things are going to be different.
This morning he’s going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand and say, “Bye-Bye Dad,” as he starts out on the great adventure.
It is an adventure that might take him across continents, across oceans.
It’s an adventure that will probably include wars and tragedy and sorrow.
To live his life in the world he will have to live in will require faith and love and courage.
So, World, I wish you would sort of look after him. Take him by the hand and teach him things he will have to know.
But do it gently, if you can.
He will have to learn that not all men are just – not all men are true.
But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero, and for every crooked politician there is a great and dedicated leader.
Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend.
Steer him away from envy if you can.
And teach him the secret of quiet laughter.
In school, World, teach him it is far more honorable to fail that to cheat.
Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone says they are wrong.
Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough people.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon.
Teach him to listen to all men – but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth and take just the good that siphons through.
Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he’s sad.
Teach him there is no shame in tears.
Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success.
Treat him gently, World, if you can, but don’t coddle him – Because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
Let him have the courage to be impatient.
Let him have the patience to be brave.
Let him be no other man’s man.
Teach him always to have faith in himself.
This is quite a tall order, World, but see what you can do.
He’s quite a little guy – my son!