CLEVELAND, Tennessee — A mother used a tube of toothpaste to teach her daughter a lesson that will probably stay with her forever.
Amy Beth Gardner shared a photo and an explanation on her Facebook page a day before her daughter started middle school.
The woman from Cleveland, Tennessee, said the family was all set for back-to-school: Her daughter’s locker was decorated; she was surprised with a new backpack, and she got new uniforms.
But, Gardner said, the most important pre-middle school task was done right before bed.
“I gave her a tube of toothpaste and asked her to squirt it out onto a plate. When she finished, I calmly asked her to put all the toothpaste back in the tube. She began exclaiming things like “But I can’t!” and “It won’t be like it was before!” I quietly waited for her to finish and then said the following:
“You will remember this plate of toothpaste for the rest of your life. Your words have the power of life or death. As you go into middle school, you are about to see just how much weight your words carry. You are going to have the opportunity to use your words to hurt, demean, slander and wound others. You are also going to have the opportunity to use your words to heal, encourage, inspire and love others.
You will occasionally make the wrong choice; I can think of three times this week I have used my own words carelessly and caused harm. Just like this toothpaste, once the words leave your mouth, you can’t take them back. Use your words carefully, Breonna. When others are misusing their words, guard your words. Make the choice every morning that life-giving words will come out of your mouth. Decide tonight that you are going to be a life-giver in middle school. Be known for your gentleness and compassion. Use your life to give life to a world that so desperately needs it. You will never, ever regret choosing kindness.”
Gardner’s Facebook post has gone viral with over 660,000 thousand shares. Many people commented about how much they loved the metaphor she used. Some said they have used the same demonstration.