With the title you may immediately think I am referencing cancer, but that is not it at all. I survived Jake’s first day (and week) of kindergarten. Cancer all of a sudden seemed easy in comparison to that day. (That is such a lie, but seemed monumental and insurmountable in that moment). On Monday, August 26th, my job description changed. After five and a half years of being the primary caregiver for my child, I sent him off to school… Oh my heavens, that was awful. Why haven’t any of you out there told me of the terribleness of that day? Actually, that too, is a lie. It is not all awful. Jake is being blessed by a “free” education. He is being blessed with new friendship and new beginnings. He is definitely blessed by the wonderful Christian woman who is his teacher. He is blessed to go to a small, rural school with only 8 kids in his class. I have prayed for this day for years. I did forget one little thing… To pray for myself. That I would survive it. I didn’t really ask for a job change and am still not certain I like it. I truly believe it is my primary responsibility to educate my children and this year I am thankful to use a teacher as a resource. Roy and I will continue to take one year at a time and pray about keeping our boys in public education versus homeschooling, and this year we feel confident in our decision to send Jake to public school.
Roy, Matt and I took Jake to school on his first day. Mom’s had previously told me of turning away and crying as soon as they dropped off their child. I was not so lucky. Tears were streaming before we even got to the school and Jake was fully aware of it. He was and continues to be so much braver than I. We got to drop off his overweight backpack and head outside for morning recess. He ran around in the chaos of the other kids and occasionally checked back in to see if Matt wanted to play. Matt clung to my leg like a leech and left Jake to venture out on his own. We all got to go in when the bell rung and take a picture of the whole class, the classroom and his desk. Still, there is no hiding the fact that I am crying. Jake also continued to be incredibly brave.
The second day came along and we had discussed the fact that Jake could ride the bus. We waited outside on our front porch, prayed over him and then continued waiting. Jake randomly announces, “The bus is at Grammie and Grandpa’s.” What? I go into hysterical panic mode. “Poor little kid. He is going to miss the bus on his first day of riding the bus!” We loaded up VERY quickly and zoomed down the back road to meet the bus. (It might be important to mention I was a horribly anxious child and had fears of about everything related to school, so this threw me back 25 years and I was frantic). I tried to appear like a duck – water running off my back, and paddling like a wild woman below the surface. We got to the bus, the driver apologized for having the wrong house and off Jake went.
After every day of school we ask him how it was and what he learned. After the first day, “It was great!” After the second day it was also a really good day. He did tell me that once he got on the bus there were kids laughing at him. I asked him how he handled that situation and he said that after a few minutes he moved seats and they stopped laughing. OH MY GOSH! Who laughs at a kindergartener on his first day on the bus? Response #1: Mama Bear was willing to get on the bus the next morning and devour any child with a smile on their face. Response #2: Talk to the bus driver about protecting my child. Response #3: Talk to Jake and see if we could decipher why the kids might have been laughing – maybe it was because the driver was at the wrong house? Maybe it was because Mommy drove up to the bus so fast? None of those seemed like the way Jake interpreted the situation. Finally, my brain got to Response #4: Pray. I had an opportunity to pray for friendships, safety and security. Why does it take me so long to get to that response? Why in the world did I want to eat small children that intended to emotionally harm my child? In the scheme of life, this will be such a minor bump, but in the moment I thought I could never send my Jake to school again, or at least not on the bus. We discussed it and talked to him about bravery and courage and without a blink in his eye, he got on the bus for day 3.
Now to the really honest part: I did go up to the school during two lunch recesses last week to check on Jake. I so looked like the creepy lurking parent, and I am so thankful I did it. My child, who I love more than anything else of this world (other than Jesus, Roy, Matt, family and friends), was doing just fine. He was running around with all the other kids just playing. Enjoying the sunshine and falling off of the merry-go-round.
For those of you who recently sent your children off to school, I would love to share some of my prayers with you:
* Lord, I come to you in Jesus name and I give my child to You. I am convinced that You alone know the best path for my child. You know his needs – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Please guide my child to choose to do the right thing always, even when it is not the easiest. Please help me to pray Your will for my child. Thank you for being my partner in this journey and helping me to raise my children.
* Lord, I lift Jake up to you and ask that You would put a hedge of protection around him. I ask for him to be safe from harm and feel secure in his surroundings. Thank you for protecting him from disease, injury or any other sort of abuse. I pray that he will make his refuge “in the shadow of Your wings” until these “calamities have passed by” (Psalm 57:1) Hide him from any kind of evil influences that would come against him.
* Jesus, I pray for Jake to feel loved and accepted. I pray for Godly friendships and relationships. Thank you for helping him to develop into a Godly man who will serve You whole heartedly. I pray that Jake can attract Godly friends and role models. Please help Jake to learn what it takes to be a good friend and guide his communication with his teacher and classmates. Your word says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.” (Proverbs 13:20)