Every couple weeks or so, I get the school jitters. Last night it came of the tail of showing up early in the carpool line as a special treat (usually I roll up just as the line starts moving), waiting 30 minutes for my kindergartener and then getting spoken to with an attitude that I'm sure he never gives his teacher or any of the school staff. My child is sweet and smart and I know after being on his very best behavior all day, I'm a safe place to unwind. So I walk the line of piling on grace and asserting the boundaries of what is an acceptable way to talk to his mom.
And then I started reading the blogs. You know the ones - the families who pulled out their children and are unschooling, homeschooling, taking astrophysics courses from a college professor while in the 9th grade. The stories of bullying at school pepper the news headlines. Then I start reading up on the test scores, the law, the faults of common core... and by the time my eyelids blend into that space between lucid thought and prayerful dream, I've convinced myself I'm robbing my child of his most precious possession - his childhood.
This morning we walked to school down a wet street with the fallen leaves washed to the right side of the road. As we passed a graveyard, we talked about the bones in the boxes under the ground. "Don't they miss them, their bones?" "When we go to heaven, we'll have new bones." "But I like the bones I have now!" "You say that now, but when your bones are old and creaky, you may wish you had new ones." "Do they trust God?" "I don't know. You can't really know what a person believes unless you've talked to them." "I trust God!" His faith. I pray it runs deeper some day than my own. I pray it goes deeper than my own words. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. - Heb 4:12
This morning's parent-teacher conference again put my heart at ease. He's growing. He's gaining confidence. He has amazing self-discipline. He's reading. He's writing pages of sentences. Usually those sentences are about how he loves his mom, dad and brother. He's helping teach the other kids. He comes home from school and plays for a bit before sitting down at the table to write and do math in his notebooks. We demand he put down his pencil and pick up his fork for dinner. I asked him if he's having fun and if he is learning. Yes and yes. I ask who he's been playing with at recess. I check his color-coded behavior sheet and let him know that it's okay if he needs to have a "yellow day" now and then. And perhaps just as important, his teacher loves her job, the school and administration, and she is positive about the children rising to the challenge with the new curriculum and the work cut out for her in helping them along.
So for now we hold course, and I check my desire to keep him under my wing. In the voice of Clocksworth, "I always say, 'If it's not Baroque, don't fix it!'" No, we do more than hold course. We stay involved. I get to know the kids in his class and their moms and volunteer when I can. I remind him that there are children in his class who may have never heard that Jesus loves them, and that they need to see God's love too. I ask him to keep his eye on the kid in his class that doesn't know much English and make sure he has friends on the playground. At bedtime, I continue to sneak in kisses and listen to him grind his teeth before I crawl into my own covers proud as can be and still heavy under the weight that we are his only advocate and that what we choose, and what we don't choose, shapes him.
And with the eyes of a mother, I wait and watch. Not on the school. Not on the news reports. Not on the government. I watch and wait on the Lord. I pray that I'd always be ready and that I'd trust God to show up. I look for the footprints of where He's been. I remind myself of the prayer I prayed walking through the far tunnel on campus one day long before I was married or had kids, "God I pray that when I do someday have kids that my desire would not be for their love and affection towards me, but for them to see, know and love You." And I remember the prayer while on the floor next to his crib, "I have him only for awhile, but may he always be Yours."