By the time this post comes out, many of you will have sent off your beloveds back to school. Perhaps it is the first day of kindergarten for you. Or perhaps you’ve moved them in to their first dorm room at college or university. For many others of you, your kids are grown up and are sending off children of their own. The first day of school, for me, evokes such happy memories… I loved (and still love!) school. Shiny new shoes and backpacks, sharpened pencils all in a row… it’s a new beginning, a new chance to learn and grow and flourish. I giggle as I think about this because my boys usually scuff up their new shoes a bit and grab whatever writing implement they see in the drawer for their first day. No great anticipation there. It’s nice to know that we are made so diversely, eh?
Photo by: Jiayan Chui
Okay… let’s pretend everyone is excited about learning and growing… and then go a little deeper. For many of us, sending our kids off to school is a scary new chapter. It means they have reached an age where independence is beginning… and their dependence on us, is diminishing. When our first born was getting ready for school, we researched the options. Should we use public education? Private, montessori… homeschool? Did you know there was even something called unschooling? I have heard all the arguments against public education and the benefits of this or that. Feel free to add your personal experiences to the comments… However, no matter what venue of education one chooses, there must always be a day when we must let them go. For some it comes earlier than others. But it always comes.
I am not sure why, but the story of the prodigal son has been popping up all over my journey this summer… I have heard it spoken on about seven times in various sermons and talks throughout the last few months. Obviously God is asking me to look at it! To be honest, it’s a mystery as to why this particular parable has been so popular, but I mention it because perhaps we are to look at it together. To be linked coincidentally here on the internet through a story about letting our sons and daughters go. Some of you I know personally. Many of you are dear to my heart, and I know your children like my own. Other readers are strangers to me. Perhaps you have connected with mittonmusings for a completely different reason. A fellow blogger looking for followers. Yet, my hope and prayer is that God has connected you to this particular post because He wants you to learn, along with me, that it is okay to let those so near and dear to our hearts go on their own way. I am sure that the father in the story of Luke 15 was a complete basket case on the day that his youngest set out for a foreign land with a stack of money in his back pocket. I am sure his mother was even worse! “Will he go to synagogue?” “Will he drink too much and get caught up with the wrong crowd?” “Will he spend his money wisely and invest properly?” “Will he learn all the wrong philosophies and be exposed to false teachings?” “Will I have to pay half his student loans from our retirement fund?””Will he eat properly ?” Yup, I am sure his Jewish bubbe had plenty to fear.
I have to be honest with you. I shed very few tears when my children went off to school. I proudly packed their bags and handed over the reigns to their teachers. Was it easy? No. Our youngest son screamed, bawled and ran off down the hallway for the first two
months years of kindergarten. Our eldest daughter struggled to complete her first year and find her niche at University (away from home). The other two have had ups and downs with teachers and peers. We’ve had to juggle family activities with four kids in four different schools. We’ve had to balance tolerance and diversity with our faith based values. We’ve also learned to love and share with others who don’t always see the world the way we do. Anxieties, competitions, goals and mighty accomplishments have been a part of our school careers. I have quickly learned (and have instilled in our beloveds!) that teachers are just people too. They have good days and bad days like the rest of us. So if you are just starting your school life… please, please, please… be involved. Go to school council meetings, go to the interviews, get to know the staff and your kids friends. Be the house that invites them home for lunches and after school snacks. Claim the promise in Proverbs 22:6. You have trained and prepared them for this… now let them go.
I guess I have to caveat the “let them go” statement… with the fact that although the father in the story granted his son’s wishes and let him go off to a foreign land, he certainly didn’t forget him! He kept a watchful eye on the road for his journey back. He was there to celebrate his return… and to love him despite his failures. Back to school is a mixed bundle of emotions: we are proud and excited, and worried and anxious. The great wide world is full of the allure of the grandiose and the independence our children crave. And wise parents must trust that the Almighty has a plan for their children. He knows them so much better than even we do. So, there will be no back to school blues at our house. No tears or anxious peeking through the classroom windows. There will only be new shoes, and packed lunches, and bank loans for student expenses. And a mom and dad keeping watchful eyes on some kids who were trained to the best of our abilities to return home. The rest… is up to God.