Dear Frank and Molly,
After this summer of separation times and unpredictable schedules, it was hard for me to load you up on the bus and send you on your journey back to school. You may only have traveled two blocks, but it feels like you are a world away. Third and first grade feels so big, so grown, but as I see my friends posting pictures of their toddlers turned preteens, or worse, high schoolers, I know that time is marching forward and you will continue to grow no matter how hard your mama digs in her heels.
I want to document all the things I share with you, knelt by your bed at night, talking in hushed tones, just each of you and me. I want to look back when you not racing to the bus stop but rather shuffling to your car to drive off to school and see how the lessons we’ve shared have taught you, formed you or been repeated over and over until you either comprehend or ignore the scenarios that led you to that page in your book.
1. Don’t be afraid. We can pray that the school won’t burn down or that things will go smoothly with that one kid that makes you tense. We can pray that you will be kind and brave. I am happy to pray those prayers with you and want you to know that God should be the one you take those concerns to. But I don’t want you to live your life consumed by concern.
God did not give you a spirit of timidity and I pray that in my guidance and my handling of your hearts’ responses to the things that cause you stress, that I don’t try to push that sort of spirit on you either.
I could advise you that kids can be tough and they can smell fear, so do your best to give off a confident vibe. I could advise you to pay attention during the fire drills so that in the case of a real emergency you know what to do. But I can’t prevent life’s hurts and daily disasters from coming. nor would I, as I have learned the blessing of suffering and trials.
I can assure you that though things might not always be good, they can always be glorious.
It is a choice of the heart to see God’s hand in the good and the bad and to praise Him no matter what, and to live kindly and bravely, no matter what.
2. Be fast, be focused. This is a mantra in our house, from the wrestling mat, to the soccer field, to the morning work desk. If there is a task in front of you, work hard at it and get it done. Do it well, because it is in you to do it so. You were created as capable children who are very bright. If you drag your feet and don’t finish the simple stuff, you will miss out big time.
Paul tells the Colossians that whatever they do, do it as unto the Lord, not unto men. I think even those who don’t ascribe to Christian teaching can hear the message there. Work for something bigger. Work as if what you’re doing matters. It may just be a worksheet, busy work, but it is in front of you to serve a greater purpose than just the completion of an assignment.
If you approach each task as if it is a small step towards God’s glorious goal in your life, how monumental is the mundane?!?!
3. Play hard at recess. It is a long day of learning. You will jam a lot in your brains. When you get the chance to get outside, run. Tag someone and then sprint up and down the playground. Swing the highest and learn to jump off while you are still in the air. Slide down the fireman’s pole and shimmy back up it (though that last bit may be against the rules). Be willing to skin your knees.
The faster you run, the higher you jump the more risks you take, the more you learn that you are able to accomplish great things when you’re willing to put in big effort and take big risks.
4. Keep talking to me. And to Daddy. I want to hear what you did today that you’re proud of and about the ways you and your friends had so much fun. I want to hear how you rose to met challenges and about who told you they were glad you are their best friend. I want to hear about all the happiest things that you experienced when you were not with me.
I want to hear about the video game manifestation that you played at recess, all of your friends pretending to be different characters of games that bore me, or the same story of playing kitties and doggies that I’ve heard every day before. I want to hear about your broken pencils and how you had to do more plain old running in gym. I want to hear that they served chef salad even though the calendar said pizza. If it matters to you, it matters to me.
I want to hear how you screamed at someone at recess and told them that you don’t even want to play with them. I want to hear about how you dropped all your stuff in the hall and it went flying and even though you tried to stop it, you cried anyway. I want to hear about how the other kids won’t stop talking about boyfriends and girlfriends and it’s annoying. I want to hear about how that one kid stole your crayons and said they were his, even though your name was clearly written on each and every crayon. I want to hear about when you are slighted or cheated. I want to hear about when you slight or cheat others. I can only comfort or advise you if I know about it. Nothing is so bad that I won’t want to hear about it.
I love you both. Don’t forget in your chatting to eat your lunch. Raise your hand and push in your chair. Be polite to your teachers and your friends. Have fun. Come home soon.