...that is a line from one of my favorite Broadway musicals, Roger Miller's Huck Finn adventure, "Big River."
And that's also how I felt about my firstborn son going off into the world. You would think, having him for five years, that I'd realize this day was bound to come. And I suppose, mentally, I knew it was- but emotionally I was not ready.
Pooter, on the other hand, was chompin' at the bit to start school. One of the (only) downsides to being a SAHM and keeping my babies underfoot is that (other than cousins, Sunday school, and AWANAS) they don't get much social interaction. Oh, except for ChickFilA. I think B-dub was ready to do some more exploring of his universe, away from our home.
For the last 4 years, Jeremy and I had been assuming that our kids would somehow, someway be attending Christian School. After all, we have lots of family and friends who go there, and we had both started our scholastic careers at private, Christian schools. I have nothing against public schools, I graduated from a great, above-average pub school. But I know how crucial the Christian, biblical foundation is, and I was hoping he would get that foundation too.
Now, "assuming" does not equate "planning." We had saved no money, and I "assumed" it would just show up. Because, after all, why would God NOT want one of His children to be immersed in His Word in every school subject? Wouldn't He just.... provide?
So last May we went to Parent Night at CS, paid our deposit/registration, and began our summer. Only, it was ME who wanted so desperately, who prayed so much, for him to be there. Jeremy told me time and time again that logistically we couldn't send him to a private (ahem, superexpensive) school. And then if we did, what about the two girls who would all too soon follow him?
I ignored my husband- something I knew better than to do. I ignored the man that God provided to guide me and my children thought this life. Basically, I ignored God. I kept on assuming and hoping and wishing there would be a way.
But, there wasn't. I finally surrendered, relented, accepted. He would not be a "Christian School Kid," as one of his cousins called it. I apologized to both my husband and my Father for being a headstrong, self-assured jerk. I enrolled him in the school that is 1.6 miles away from our house. It was dingy. It was cobwebby. I was not pleased. I made it known that I was not pleased. Then I shut up and got out of God's way, apologized again, and got down to the business of preparing myself to send my baby on his way.
I spent the summer watching my son. He has always been ahead of the curve in both brains and heart. He is so compassionate, so tenderhearted, I worried that he would be a doormat kind of kid. But then, I'd seen him tell a kid to STEP OFF when that kid threatened his sister. I'd seen him wrastlin' around with his cousins. He can take care of himself.
So I watched, and I paid attention to what I was paying attention to. I spent a little more time with him, focusing on his heart, mind, and spirit. I encouraged him, disciplined him, prayed over him. Daily.
We bought school supplies. Jeremy actually jumped ahead of me. He and the boy came home from a WalMart trip last month with a few boxes of crayons and kleenex. We bought 2 extra of each of the items from his school supply list, to give to his teacher in case a student had none. We bought him a rest mat. I sewed him a sheet, blanket and pillow, a la my own Menga for my own kindergarten nap mat.
He went to kindergarten camp. He made a friend. He impressed the teachers. "Did you know he could read??" one asked me. "Yes ma'am, he has been for about a year now. He writes his name, but refuses to use lowercase letters." He's a capital-letter kind of kid.
We picked out his clothes for the first three days. We bought (way too much) food to pack his lunch. We prayed and prayed.Though all of this, I was still secretly a leeeeettle bit angry and hurt that God hadn't provided a way for him to go to Christian School. Wasn't I planning for his future? Wasn't I protecting him, putting him in the world, but not letting him be of it? Wasn't I a good enough parent?
And yet, through all of this, there were small encouragements- for me. My nephew had been to the school Pooter would be going to. My sister said she loved the teachers. My mother met several School District teachers at an ESL conference, and they all raved about the school. Loved it.
After kindergarten camp, I had a small tug at my heart. I knew who his teacher would be. I don't presume to say "God spoke to me," but there it was, I knew. The teacher class lists wouldn't be posted until the following week, but I began praying for his teacher- for real, on my knees praying for her. Praying for him. Praying for me. I was still nursing a wound, but it was healing more quickly than I anticipated.
Sho' nuff, I got a call last Friday afternoon from the mother of Pooter's new friend, and she confirmed what the Spirit had already whispered to me- Mrs. J would be Poot's teacher.
Tuesday night we went to "officially" meet Mrs. J, and see his classroom. He. Loved. It.
He was thrilled. He found dominoes. He found his very own name on his very own desk. There were TWO bathrooms RIGHT IN THE CLASS!! He gave his teacher a small gift that his Menga set up for her. I included a note, saying it was from Pooter's grandmother who was also a teacher. Mrs. J was tickled to be getting a present, I think.
We had a sweet family night Tuesday, and put the kids in bed much later than we should have. Jeremy was so kind and supportive of my crazy weepy I-can't-believe-mah-babee's-going-to-school self. He might have gotten a little sentimental himself, but don't tell him I said so.
I packed Pooter's backpack and a superawesome lunch. We prayed. He prayed. He was excited beyond belief.
For the last week he had been asking me if I would be sad without him around. The truth was "yes, unbearably miserable," but I simply said I would miss him, but knew he would be having a blast in kindergarten. Finally, he asked me again as I was tucking him in, and I replied "Yes, I will be sad. But I will also be holding you in my heart when you are at school."
For his first day of school, Pooter's daddy took off a day of work. Jeremy wanted to drop him off and pick him up. He was there the day The Boy took his first steps, he wanted to be there for this next step. It went so smoothly.
As I had long suspected, Pooter ran off to play and make friends. I had to beg him back to me for one last kiss. Aaaand, I forgot his superawesome lunch. Ha! Jeremy and I stopped by the boohoo breakfast, picked up some baby-Wampus Cat tea towels and headed home.
That was that.
At the end of the day we picked him up directly from his classroom, and he was a changed boy. We immediately saw how exhausted and elated he was. He made it, his first day of kindergarten. It took a few hours of decompressing before we got any really good scoop. I took a nap. My nerves and emotions overcame me, so I blocked out the world (once I had my baby safely back in my nest).
Then I got a phone call. And a voicemail. "Hi, Mrs. B. This is Mrs. J. Your boy had a wonderful first day, I'm very excited to have him in my class this year. I loved the present you guys sent! I was wondering, who is B's grandmother that is a teacher in Hot Springs? I used to teach at *an elementary school* down there. If you get a chance, call me back."
It was the SAME school MY MOTHER taught at for over a decade! I immediately called Mrs J back. She knew my mom!! She loved my mom! She taught down the hall from my mom for four years! She explained that her husband (who, did I mention, runs with the same running group as my sister-in-law?) had a job in Hot Springs for a few years, and then they'd moved back Here. She graduated from Here. Naturally at this point in the conversation I started name-dropping."Well, if you went to Here, then you must have had my husband's Grandmother" She did, and she loved her! Her father worked with my grandmother-in-law.
We were so connected.
And then, after we hung up, it hit me. God had provided all along. He had set me up, I had walked through fear, He sent small peices of peace, and I grasped to them. He had this planned all along.
I was overcome with a missing-my-father-in-law feeling. Oh man, did he love the Sovereignty of God. He woudl have laughed at me. He would have patted me on the back. He probably would have pulled out three or four books to show me on the particular subject.
The entire experience has been a lesson in trust. Trusting my 5 years of dutiful parenting. Trusting my husband's level-headedness. Trusting in my eternal Provider. Trusting that He has only good in store for those who love and obey Him. Not only "easy," but only good.
The last two nights Jeremy and I have kneeled at the side of our public-school-kid's bed, praying to our merciful and mighty Saviour. Begging forgiveness, begging guidance, effusing praise, pouring out thanksgiving before the One whose provisions are perfect.
All aboard.....It's guaranteed to be a great ride.