Although my children are all grown and living on their own, the start of a new school year brings back many memories of the days when a new year brought with it new pencils, new boxes of crayons, new folders, new notebooks, new backpacks, new everything!
What a great way to push a restart button. Sort of like a New Year's resolution in August! How many of us didn't say to ourselves when we were starting a new school year: "this is going to be MY year! I'm going to study everyday, I'm going to get straight A's, this is going to be a great year!" Such great expectations!
As a Navy family, our children moved several times and went to several schools in the elementary years. I think my oldest child, my son, went to 5 or 6 schools by seventh grade. It was par for the course in our life.
When our children were in 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grade my husband got orders that caused us to move in the middle of the school year. We had been at the current duty station in California for over two years (a long time for us!) and leaving behind our neighborhood and friends was difficult to do. But we made the 3000 mile journey to Florida in nine days and began to plant our roots quickly.
We enrolled our children in a large school system (2000 kids in one elementary school alone) that ran on a 5 track school year schedule. This means that at any given time, there were five different school years going on at once. The tracks were labeled by colors and each track was in a year round school year. Our children were placed on the Green track and the day that we registered them, school was in high gear. We were given a tour of the two story elementary school and there were children everywhere! Overwhelmed would be putting it lightly, we were terrified for our children!
The morning of the first day of school, our oldest daughter, Hannah, who would be in the 3rd grade, was very anxious. We were staying in the Navy Lodge while we waited to move into our rental and so we were all in the hotel room as Hannah began crying and saying she didn't want to go. She begged us to please let her stay with us one more day. "Please, please, please, let me stay," she begged.
In hindsight maybe we should have let her stay back one more day, but at the time we felt that it was important for her to go, scared and all. It wouldn't get any easier by delaying the inevitable.
So we all got in the car and made the drive to school. When we pulled up to the front of the school, our daughter again begged us not to make her go, "please, just one more day." But we insisted she go and we walked her and her younger sister in.
The children were all lined up outside their classrooms, sitting on the floor, talking to their friends. It was noisy and the hallway seemed to go on forever, with all of these children sitting with their backs against the wall.
We walked our youngest, Sarah, to her classroom and then it was Hannah's turn. We hugged her and reassured her that she would be ok, that she just had to make it through the first day and things would be better. And then we left. When my husband and I got out to the car and sat inside we both started crying.
How hard it is to let our children go into the world and make their way! No matter what our children face in life, we are not always going to be there to face it with them. It's so important to give them the right tools for them to use.
The first few weeks at her new school were hard for Hannah. She didn't sleep well the first few nights and by the third or fourth night when she still wasn't sleeping, we sat down and looked at what her weekly schedule was going to be.
We started with Monday and she told me what activities there are on Monday and so on down the weekdays. When we finished with Friday, I said to her, "Ok Hannah, now you know what you can expect each day of the week. What is there to be afraid of?"
She looked at me and without missing a beat said, "The whole year!"
We laugh about that now, but at the time, she was very serious. I remember praying for her at the time that God would give her what she needed to make it through and to give me the wisdom to know how to help her.
It was a tough tour of duty for us. My husband had a hard job and each of the kids and myself were tested with very difficult circumstances that we couldn't have prepared for except to know that God was with us through each and every situation.
Nothing that we would face during that tour was a surprise to Him. Everything that was to happen had already been filtered through his loving hands. It's hard to remember that when we're in the fire, but it doesn't make it any less true. God knows what He's doing with our lives, in our lives, and through our lives.
When we are faced with difficulties, our children are watching how we handle them. I knew, as a Navy wife and Mom, that I was my children's only consistent human ally. I had to live confidently, even though I was shaking on the inside.
It is a difficult thing to watch your children suffer. Whether emotionally, spiritually, or physically. Yet, who better to understand watching your child suffer than God Himself? He watched His ONLY son be tortured, humiliated, and put to death and there was no child more innocent than His son, Jesus.
He knows what we parents go through when our children suffer. He knows. We just have to trust when we can't see that good is following ALL things that are thrown our way.
By the way, that little scared third grader now holds a BS in nursing and is a wonderful nurse!