“This is going to be GREAT!” he said.
He chatted me up the rest of the morning, following me from room to room, speaking in a delighted staccato. “I wonder if there will be any new kids,” he said as he washed his face at the bathroom sink. “And if there are?” I asked. “I will walk up to them and say, ‘welcome to Calvary…it know it might have been hard for you to come to class this morning, but you can have a new friend, right now’.”
My spirit smiled the contented smile of a parent whose child remembers that he once was new also, and has grown in compassion (because, after all, #weneedoneanother, right Carissa Woodwyk?). Turning off the water, I pulled my towel behind the curtain and into the shower with me so that I could dry without asking him to leave. He was certainly not finished talking.
Ready, we stepped outside, snapped the customary “first day of school” picture, and set off on our walk to school. He was grinning from ear to ear. The air was cool, if a little sticky. Nothing could quell his glee. I leaned down and kissed his little face as we walked, knowing that it isn’t cool anymore now that fourth grade has come. As we approached the building, he cut across the school lawn; the sidewalk just takes so long on an exciting day like this, don’t you know?
Walking into his classroom, he was warmly greeted by his new teacher, entering her 32nd year of teaching. We are so blessed to have her in his life. His enthusiasm for the first day of school was matched only by hers. Settling him at his desk, “Do you need anything?” I asked. “No; I’m good Mom,” came his quick reply. I whispered to him, “Have a super day! I’ll see you this afternoon.”
I stepped out into the morning again, starting my short walk home. I thought of all the mamas out there that can’t wait for their children to go back to school. I’ve never been that mom, although I do welcome the return of routine for our family this year and the productivity it will grant me.
Then I thought of all the mamas who mourn their children’s return to school, feeling it such a loss. That’s never quite been me, either.
I once shared with a friend that before I had children, I thought I would weep at every milestone. Instead I find myself excited for him at each and every one: for the opportunities he’ll have, for what God will do in him and through him, for the joys he’ll experience and the things he’ll learn. The tear in the eye of my heart dried itself and packed up, saving itself for a day when it would truly be needed. Today isn’t about me, and how I’ll miss him and the time we won’t get to spend together now that school has started. Today is about him, his joy, his excitement!
I relished the enthusiasm for life and friends and learning in my son this morning. I let my spirit soak in the remnants of it as they stayed with me on my walk home. It is my purpose to encourage it, to nurture and grow it, to seat it in him so securely that it cannot be moved. You see, the world will mess with it. There will be those who will show him the fallen nature of the human spirit in ways that will be hurtful, even cruel. I am under no illusions. There may even be those who attack him based on the very way that God made him – perfectly and delightfully brown. When that day comes, that single tear in the eye of my heart will multiply into a searing pain beyond what I can even imagine today. Yet, we’ll handle it because of the work we’re doing as a family today. Right now. Moment by moment. In the safe space of our home, we teach him about the world, and in light of it we build him and work diligently to give him a strong spirit.
My goal as the safe space in his world is to seat in him enthusiasm and joy and trust, and security in the way God made him that runs so deep and so strong and true that it becomes utterly unshakable, so that when the world messes with him and makes him question his very person he will be so steeped in Truth, grace, and love that it will be no more than a blip.
Today is the first day of fourth grade. There isn’t a nervous fiber in him. It’s working. He is well on his way. Go forth and learn, my son. Enjoy.