Home Speech-Language Pathology Remembering Sandy Hook: How to Live Like a First Grader

Remembering Sandy Hook: How to Live Like a First Grader

by Melanie Potock MA
written by

As a speech-language pathologist who works with young children in their homes and schools, it’s impossible for me not think of the heartbreak at Sandy Hook Elementary School this time of year. Shortly after the tragedy in 2012, I made a list of some simple things I can do to honor those precious lives taken on December 14th. Every year, I plan to add to the list. This new year, I promise to embrace life more like a first grader in memory of the children and the young-at-heart adults who will always be missed by their families and communities. I plan to:

• Break into random acts of dancing in the most quiet places, like the doctor’s office.

• Use words like “sparkly.”

• SKIP. Everywhere.

• Stop in my tracks and squeal at the sight of anything furry: squirrel, neighbor’s dog, or the ring of fur on my best friend’s winter hood.

• Learn to read…new books, that is. Something happy – something meaningful, like “Oh, The Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss.

• Sing silly songs. Loudly. In public.

• Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich masterfully created with a dinosaur cookie cutter. This will make any co-worker at the office jealous and he will ask his mom for the same lunch.

• Gallop, because I love horses. Skipping is so over-rated when you can gallop.

• Pretend.

• Buy a Whoopee cushion and burst out laughing every single time someone sits on it. Whoopee cushions never, never get old.

• Finger paint. Do crafts. But first, let go of perfection.

• Hold it up and yell, “I made this for you!” and then give it to a stranger.

• Bring an apple to a teacher.

• Stomp in a puddle.

• Make a homemade card to brighten someone’s day.

• Eat snow.

• Open your lunch in front of co-workers and announce, “I got a juice box today!”

• State emphatically every 20 minutes “I’m hungry.” Oh wait, I already do that.

• Dress up. Wear party shoes even when there is no party.

• Take every opportunity to play… especially in the rain.

• Truly believe in the power of a found penny (head-side up, of course).

• Demand a full set of birthday candles on my cake EVERY year, and blow them out with vigor.

• Lick the spoon.

• Hold the door open for the rest of the line behind me.

• Never ever walk by a playground without stopping to swing.

• Go to the library.

• Post things that I am proud of on my refrigerator.

• Hug my mom and dad.

Never forget to be a kid! What do you plan to do in the New Year? Let us know in the comments below. Let’s keep this list growing in memory of Sandy Hook.

Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, treats children birth to teens who have difficulty eating.  She is the author of Happy Mealtimes with Happy Kids and the producer of the award-winning kids’ CD Dancing in the Kitchen: Songs that Celebrate the Joy of Food!  Melanie’s two-day course on pediatric feeding is  offered for ASHA CEUs and includes both her book and CD for each attendee.  She can be reached at Melanie@mymunchbug.com.


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Barb Rosinski Raymonda December 13, 2013 - 6:56 am

Wear a “spinny dress” and spin like nobody’s watching. Wait, make sure somebody is watching.

Fall asleep to the sounds of Christmas music and the twinkle of the tree lights.

Make a giant pile of pillows and blankets and snuggle in to read a whole book, all the way through.

Say ” Cheese” and smile because I know I am beautiful, whenever somebody points a camera my way.

Melanie Potock December 13, 2013 - 1:51 pm

Oh, I love ALL of these! I’m adding them to my list…thank you Barb!

Susan Horn December 13, 2013 - 10:53 am

I plan to just sit and watch the snow fall gently, embracing the beauty and wonder of nature.

Melanie Potock December 13, 2013 - 1:52 pm

Being present…that’s what kids are all about. Love your plan, thank you Susan!

Val Mason December 14, 2013 - 9:53 am

Hug! Share my accomplishments with anyone who will listen and jump up and down with glee when they tell me how awesome I am!

Melanie Potock December 16, 2013 - 3:12 pm


Katie Reily December 14, 2013 - 11:00 am

I will look at grown ups with trust and wonder as if they are already forgiven.

Melanie Potock December 16, 2013 - 3:12 pm

Oh, I love that one. Thank you Katie.

Heidi Pavlikowski December 16, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Whenever possible, I will buy fruit flavored snacks or cheez-its with characters on them over normal boring ones. Because Hello Kitty fruit snacks and Monsters Inc. Cheez-its will always be more exciting.

Melanie Potock December 18, 2013 - 1:00 pm

LOL! Or I put stickers on my lunch box. You’re never too old for stickers.

Gailyn Ryan January 6, 2014 - 9:12 am

I won’t be a first grader. Grown ups have already given me that opportunity. I will live my days trying to allow the children I work with will have that luxury. I will do all that I can to bring joy, hope, and security to my students–especially those whose circumstances threaten that joy. I will try to be a person who keeps their world safe. This means that I will be vigilant, alert, make plans for their safety, and be ready to think on my feet. I will try to have a relationship with my students that will allow them to stay calm and follow my instructions–even in dangerous situations. And I will be a happy person. so that they can see how to find happiness, even in a world that is not perfect.

Melanie Potock January 6, 2014 - 3:39 pm

Thank you for your comments Gailyn! Beautiful sentiments…

Leslie Bial January 9, 2014 - 4:59 am

Thank you for some very interesting ideas, now I have to try and remember them. Glad I came across this blog when I couldn’t sleep!

Melanie Potock January 9, 2014 - 11:15 am

I’m smiling because I was up early (and by that I mean in the middle of the night!) too. Have a good day – and try to take a nap. We need to add that to the list!

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