The bell rang and the students rushed the halls; running towards their festive weekends. Everyone except Tourè. He still sat in his seat pondering about the assignment his teacher gave them. He stared at the chalkboard and reread the board over and over again. His teacher came over and tapped him on the shoulder, seemingly waking him from a daydream. “Tourè, didn’t you hear the bell? You’re usually the first one out of here?” Mrs. Owens always spoke kindly but with much candor.
“Yes ma’am, sorry.” Tourè began to leave his seat.
“You look like you have questions Tourè. Do you understand the assignment?”
“Yes ma’am. You want us to tell you why we love ourselves and how we love ourselves.”
“Exactly Tourè, now don’t make it harder than it has to be. Why do you love yourself? How do you love yourself?”
Tourè left as confused as he has ever been before. Not because of the questions Mrs. Owens asked. The questions she asked should be easy to answer. However there was a question that came before that, that he had to answer. “Why do I love myself? Do I love myself?” Then he thought, “How would I know if I did?” He thought and thought and thought, “Does anyone love me?” He thought so hard he almost walked past his house. Luckily his dad was on the veranda and called his name as he was walking by.
“Tourè!” he called. Tourè’s head popped up and he immediately realized where he was. He looked at his dad and smiled as he opened his gate.
“What’s going on in that head of yours, son?” his dad says with a chuckle. Tourè sighed, “I was thinking about the homework Mrs. Owens gave us this weekend.”
“Well you have the entire weekend to figure it out so don’t worry too much son,” Dad replied.”
“I think I am going to need the whole weekend to figure this one out” Tourè was sitting on his Dad’s lap laughing now.
“I’m sure you will get it done Tourè, you always do.”
“Thanks Dad” Tourè said as he hugged his father. A moment of silence passed. And then Tourè asked a question.
“Dad can I ask you a question?”
“Sure, son. What’s up?”
“Do you love me?”
“Do you love mom?”
“Do you love grandma and grandpa?”
“Yes. Tourè you know these things. And they love you too.”
Tourè did know all these things but he was working his way to something.
“Do you love yourself?” he asked. His dad looked at him surprisingly.
“I have to”, he said. “See son, if you don’t love yourself, you cannot love anyone else. You have to learn yourself and care for yourself.”
"But, why do you love me then?" Tourè exclaimed.
“Tourè you are one of my biggest blessings,” Dad said as he grabbed Tourè’s arm to provide comfort.
“The reason I love you is because of who you are; thoughtful, smart, creative, curious and most of all my son.”
“Son, you might not know it yet, but I see great things in your future.”
“I love you for who you are today and the special person I know you will grow to become. Everyday I watch you work to grow into the best person you can be. I love you because you love yourself.” You must not compare yourself to others. You understand me, son?” Dad finished with a reaffirming smile.
Tourè shook his head yes and his dad continued.
“When you love yourself you embrace yourself. Your hair. Your skin. Your heritage and your history. And if there is something you don’t like about yourself or if you make a mistake, do not hate yourself for it. You can always work on becoming a better you. But you must always love yourself. No matter what.”
Tourè then looked at his Dad with a smile and embraced him with a big hug.
And thus the lesson was learned.