When you post these pictures, there is only one thing I hope for the future, and it may not be what you're thinking.
I hope that you teach them that everyone is valuable. That treating everybody with respect and kindness is common sense. I hope that you remember what you were like to others when you were young and that you have come to realise that you could have given people this opportunity, and you didn't.
I hope that you raise your children to be beautiful inside and out, because I hope that you have learned this now.
When you watch them play in their school band, I wonder if you think about the times you watched me. The times you laughed at me in my band uniform. The times you told me I was a loser or a nerd or a band geek. I wonder if you think about whispering to your friends when I had to suck it up and play the last post in front of the school.
I wonder if you feel bad about that. If you have ever thought back to that moment and decided that you will raise your children to value everyone who enters their life, even if it is only for a moment?
If you had taken the time to get to know me, you would have seen that the moment in class when you used your friends to gang up on me and my best friend, the moment you thought it was funny to laugh at us, you would have seen that you and I were not that different. That we could have all had that conversation and we all would have laughed, together.
Do you see a future like this for your child? Do you fear he, or she, will be teased or even scarier still, be the one who is teasing?
Does it keep you up at night that your child may be on the receiving end of someone's insecurities about themselves? Does it worry you that your child may become subject to ridicule about a rumour that isn't even true? That they will be given a label that means nothing yet makes them questions everything that they are?
No really, I want to know, does this worry you? Sometimes, it still worries me.
What will you do if you find out your child has been peer pressured into smoking at only fourteen? What will you feel about the child who thought it was funny? What will you see in them? Will you see yourself?
Loser. Nerd. Geek. Freak. Band Geek. Ugly. Fishlips. Bitch. Coward. Dumb. Fat. Dork. Idiot.
What will you do if your child comes home crying because they have been called the same names you called me? The same names you called me that made me fall into the darkest pit of hate for myself. What will you do if your child becomes depressed and truly believes they are worthless?
I hope that they become this for you, so you can forgive yourself and the world can be a place where bullying is just a story. A tall tale. A fable. A myth.
I hope your child is fantastic. And I hope you are too, because I forgive you for being the way you were. Because I know your were merely a child, and that nobody is perfect. I forgive you because I know, that you will tech your child the error of your ways, and one day, maybe, no one will ever be labelled with a negative.
We all deserve to be a positive.