Amy Beth Gardner’s daughter started middle school this week. She did all the usual back-to-school preparations:decorated her locker, bought new uniforms, even surprised her with a new backpack. Then, on the night before her daughter’s first day of school, she took out a plate and a tube of toothpaste and calmly squeezed the whole tube onto the plate.

Yes, there is a method to her madness.


“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,” Gardner explains. Of course, her daughter looked at her like it was an impossible task, because it is. Her daughter began to say things like But I can’t! and It won’t be like before!

That’s when mom dropped some serious knowledge, with some words her daughter will probably never forget:

“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.”

Read more of this mom’s timely and important lesson at Scary Mommy.