There is hope

Sometimes you wonder if your children are listening. Whether they hear you when you talk about kindness or recycling or strangers or why no, honey on a plain bagel is not an acceptable meal. No, not even if I give you carrots too. And then something like this happens.

Last night, I came home and asked about the kids’ say as I always do. Thalia wrinkled her face with uncharacteristic indignancy and talked to me about a problem with the breakfast at school that morning. I asked if she’d feel better if she wrote a letter about it.

“Yes,” she said. “To the principal.”

And so she did.

Dear Mr. ___,

On Wensday I had school breakfasit and the hot corn muffin was in a plastic Bag which is not good and chocolit milk.

I wish it would chang.

Sinserley, Thalia

She has shown concern about the chocolate milk at breakfast before; but the plastic bag issue was something new.

“Where did you learn about this Thalia? From Earth Day?”

“No,” she said. “I watched Jamie Oliver.”


It wasn’t her take on the subject matter that made me so emotional–although I can’t say I disagree with it in the least. It was the fact that my six year old felt passionate about something bigger than herself. Passionate enough to do something about it, all by on her own. I didn’t tell her what to write, and I didn’t help her with the spelling (clearly). What I did do is give her an envelope, then accompany her to the principal’s office before class so she would know that speaking up is okay.

She was fortunately enough to hand it to him herself. Turns out he’s a Jamie Oliver fan too.

Will it make a difference in the school? I don’t know.

But it will make a difference in her.


Here’s what pride looks like.Thalia's letter

Truth to power, baby



46 thoughts on “There is hope”

  1. One of our 5th graders organized a lunch boycott when the “pink slime” issue came to light. She chose chicken nugget day and had a huge number of 5th graders (and their siblings) participate. The Atlanta paper even got wind of it and interviewed her and her mom.

    I agree with Thalia that all the plastic our schools put out is incompatible with the environmentalism they’re teaching. Our school has a garden, worm bins, recycling… and lunch on styrofoam.

  2. It is always a surprise when we learn that all the stuff we think our kids aren’t hearing, because they act like they aren’t listening (because THAT wouldn’t be cool) actually seeps into their brains & registers in ways that are relevant to their lives. I know you are one proud mama!

    1. I’m teary at the notion of her “learning her own power.” Don’t we all need that? Thanks Dawn.

  3. Just when you think they are tuning you out, they surprise you. The other day both of my kids refused to leave the park until they picked up all the litter within eye shot. Amelia told me “littering is so RUDE Mom!” I’m pretty sure I was the only parent on the playground whose kids spent more time hauling litter to the trash can than playing on the slides. I think I’ll keep them 🙂

    1. Keep them! Keep them!

      My kids have a grandfather who walks his neighborhood picking up litter off the sidewalks, putting into a bag, then when it’s full, tossing it onto someone’s lawn for them to dispose of. Not sure if they get it, but we do.

  4. The best things you can do as a parent is encourage them to be the best and change the world….one plastic bag at a time.

  5. What an amazing girl! It’s the follow through that I think is particularly admirable and not easy to teach. I know many people (at any age) who have an opinion or a dream and never take the next step. Your daughter is the type that will be able to make things happen. Go Thalia!

    1. Thank you so much Korinthia. I think it just starts with a question…”what would you like to do about it?”

      Kids are really amazing when we let them be. I’m just learning that now.

  6. That’s awesome that she is confident enough to stand up for something she believes in. That’s something my kids struggle with but that we work on. And it’s so great to teach our kids that small steps can make a big difference, one reason that Jamie Oliver rocks. Go, Mom.

  7. I have been following your blog since Thalia was just a baby. Your motherhood has shaped her into the beautiful and intelligent little girl she is today. She is so cute in that picture. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. What an incredibly nice thing to say Emma. Thank you. (Also our total allowance of commercial TV, evidently. Heh.)

  8. That is wonderful. I’m always amazed what my kids pick up. I got lectured the other day by my 5 year old for kicking a ball in the house.

  9. Great post! I love these moments.

    I’m always wondering if my kids are taking in the things I tell them, but from time to time I get these shining glimpses of “it worked!”

    Like when my four year old asked his daycare teacher not to microwave plastic. Or, when my daughter explained to her friend that we don’t have any juice because it’s really not that good for you, even if it does taste like fruit.

    It’s pretty exciting, and reassuring that these kids are on the right track.

  10. I can see big things coming from this little girl! She’s lucky she’s got a mama to support her and tell her it’s okay to take a stand, even if it involves talking to authority. Keep lighting that passion!

  11. YES! Go Thalia! Jamie! He was the one to break through to my kids too. My mom had suggested we all watch “Food Revolution,” and I was all SCOFF REALITY TV CELEBRITY CHEF MEH. I was wrong wrong wrong, and we all fell in love with JO within minutes. He could teach us all a thing or two about authenticity and passion.

    My daughter took it upon herself to “educate” the kids in the school lunch line about the grim reality behind chicken nuggets, chocolate milk, etc. She’s never been a junk food or sweet eater, but my son…well, he can scarf down three bowls of cereal faster than I can pour one. Even HE was impressed.

    When Rael was still working at Twitter, JO came and gave a little talk and cooking demo (I know) and Rael Facetimed us in so we could be there ( He brought home an autograph and the kids were floored.

    He really is one of my heroes. I bet he was one hell of a handful as a little boy…gives me great hope for “handful” kids everywhere.

  12. So good! My first grader told me that a classmate informed her that we are “wasting money!” by putting her sandwich in plastic sandwich bags. Ok, ok…I’m in the process of switching to eco-friendlier packaging (washable bento-box containers), but god, the pressure! They’re right though of course. I had to turn off the FreshAir interview on garbage yesterday. Too depressing. But I get it. Recycling is the way to go! I’m making changes!

  13. Hold on a minute.. honey on a bagel, with carrots on the side, is NOT an acceptable meal? Honey and bread is what Greek people eat for breakfast in Greece… with yogurt, so maybe that makes it more of a meal? 😉
    In all seriousness your daughter is awesome, and you should be very proud of her!

  14. Good values and empowerment in children may be innate, it may be learned but children are especially fortunate, when their parents encourage and applaud it. I love that you empowered her to speak up and write about her own values and beliefs. That ‘moment’…the pride in her face with the snapshot….that empowerment (“even though i am only little, i can make a difference”)….here’s to kids that are empowered to make a difference and to great parenting!

  15. Dear Thalia,
    This may sound weird to you but I’ve been reading you mom’s blog since you were a little baby. Even though you don’t know me or my kids, I have heard a lot about you over the past few years. I think it’s awesome that you wrote that letter! It’s important to stand up for the things you believe in, not just in your heart but in front of other people too. The fact of the matter is that Very Small People Can Make Big Changes. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  16. Yes! This! Way to go Thalia, you are a rock star. Your story gave me happy goosebumps. P.S. My son has been asking for honey on bread for the past three mornings, and I have no idea where he got that culinary inspiration from.

  17. From me: Thalia, you have your mommy’s smile. That’s a really good thing. You also have her energy, enthusiasm, and confidence to right wrongs. Also a really good thing.

    From Tacy: Thalia. That’s a cool name!

  18. Love this! I love that our children feel strong enough to stand up and speak for themselves when it’s important to them 🙂

  19. You must be so proud. Hell, I don’t even know you and I’M proud, or at least gratified, to know that it’s still possible in this world for girls to know that they can make a difference. You done good.

  20. I think it’s awesome that she felt so proud and stood up for what she believed in. A skill that I as an adult have trouble doing sometime.

  21. I love it! I love it, I love it I love it! Did I mention I love it? What a “proud mommy moment” Heck, she’s not even my daughter and I’m super proud of her.

  22. I must be seriously emotional right now because that story and picture made me laugh out loud with tears in my eyes. Nice work, mom! You’ve raised a hyper-aware and compassionate young lady.

  23. That is a very cute letter. Even I hope that changes.


  24. Nice one Thalia. You are blessed with a bright child, she will go really far in life. You are doing a great job. 😀

  25. wow. your kid speaks truth to power? hmm. where’d she learn THAT do you suppose? Go Thalia! And of course her letter highlights the irony of the Bloomberg administration trying to ban bake sales in schools because they’re “unhealthy.” Right. And that bagged muffin? And the icecream truck gauntlet that every adult at school pickup has to run “PLEASE MOM PLEASE C’MON PLEASE…” yeah. Those trucks are healthy.
    I digress. Go thalia! How old do you have to be to run for office?

  26. how did i miss this post? next year, me + thalia on a food revolution tour of the brooklyn public schools. whadaya think? i know she and i have never met, but i have a feeling we might make a bad ass team.

  27. Yay! Good for her! School food in general is horrific (ours serves ice cream bars and popsicles-huh?) and that is so great that she is aware of what’s going on around her. Most kids would gobble it up without thinking twice. Sounds like you (and Jamie Oliver) are raising one smart cookie!

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