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“Think about the donuts of your day.” –Clark Todebush

The next time you’re feeling trepidation before a big audition, consider reflecting on the playful life advice for adults from a Michigan kindergartener, wise beyond his years.

When Gwenyth Todebush was feeling a little anxious about an upcoming meeting, little did she know that her five-year-old son, Clark, would give her uplifting affirmations that would go viral.

Gwenyth had started a routine of encouraging young Clark to think positively when he was hesitant to go to kindergarten. The pandemic had kept the kids learning at home for so long that her son felt anxious about transitioning to in-person school. 

“I would start with trying to have him look forward and say what are things that he is looking forward to so he could think about the future in a positive way rather than dread,” Gwenyth told CNN. “Or I’d say, ‘After school we can watch TV and have potato chips. And sometimes that’s all you need is just TV and potato chips.’”

Well, it’s clear Clark took these conversations to heart, because when Gwenyth told him about her nerves about an upcoming parent-teacher conference, he responded with a list of affirmations from a child’s perspective.

Gwenyth tweeted about the experience:

“When talking about our agendas for the day, I told my 5-year-old I was a little nervous about a meeting I have today. He said, ‘Mama, I am nervous all the time. I know what to do.’ So friends, here is all the advice he could fit into the drive to school.”


1. “You gotta say your affirmations in your mouth and your heart. You say, ‘I am brave of this meeting!,’ ‘I am loved!,’ ‘I smell good!’  And you can say five or three or ten until you know it.”

2. “You gotta walk big. You gotta mean it like Dolly on a dinosaur. Because you got it.”

3. “Never put a skunk on a bus.”

4. “Think about the donuts of your day! Even if you cry a little, you can think about potato chips!”

5. “You gotta take a deep breath, and you gotta do it again.”

6. “Even if it’s a yucky day, you can get a hug.”

7. “Don’t get distracted and your feet will stay on the sidewalk and not too full of snow.”

After posting these affirmations online, Gwenyth quickly saw her followers increase by 50,000. She shared some insights into Clark’s thinking about specific imagery. For example, his donut affirmation was inspired by his love of Burl Ives’ “The Donut Song.” “The song says watch the donut, not the hole. So you think about what you have, not about what you lack. And so for him, ‘Think about the donuts of your day’ is something he says a lot,” Mom explains.

“Dolly on a dinosaur,” Gwenyth interprets: “He loves Dolly Parton more than me probably. We talk about ‘Coat of Many Colors’ and how Dolly had some kids that weren’t very nice to her. And if she can do it, you can do it. I have no idea where the dinosaur came from, but he’s just very pro dinosaur.”

Regarding “I am brave of this meeting!” Gwenyth explains Clark’s logic: “If you can be ‘scared’ of something, you can be ‘brave’ about something. So I was like, yeah, I’m nervous about the meeting. Like, you gotta say that you are brave of this meeting. I don’t really know where ‘I smell good’ came from, but I use it all the time now.”

She wasn’t sure what inspired the skunk-on-the-bus advice, but she thought it was quite practical.

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