Today is the first day of school. You probably already know that. The flurry of pics on FB announces that to all. How could anyone not know that it is “Little ___________’s first day of first grade.” Yippee! Yahoo! Hallelujah! (That is translated ‘Whoot’ for you Aggies.)
Today is a travel day for me. My flight leaves mid day and I will still be in the air when it is past time for you to put on PJ’s and get your sleep on. So I decided to take the morning slow. Helped get the kids in the van and off to Tomball’s best schools. Had an extra cup of Joe. A walkie to the park with the Greatest of Danes. A short run and some stretching. Ahhhhh- what a great start to the first week of school.
As I ran that first mile I became aware that I wasn’t the only parent that seemed to have time off. There were mommies and daddies everywhere. Like ants with backpacks and lunch boxes hustling little ones down the sidewalk to school at Canyon Pointe Elementary. They snapped pictures, sipped on Starbucks, and sniffled as the little one went in the building. I even heard one mom shout to her 1st grader “Don’t forget to text me every 15 minutes to let me know what you are doing in class. Put up pics of your art on Facebook at lunch. Don’t take food from your friends because it probably isn’t organic. Love you. Have an awesome day. Bye!”
Then they all seem to gather in the park. Like today is a national holiday for parents or something – except nobody told me. I heard the mom’s talking about what Body Pump class they would all plan to attend at the Y “now that they had their life back.” The dads were comparing stories about lawnmowers and bragging about their fantasy football draft. Even their dog’s gathered to celebrate their new found privacy with the little ones off to school. As I ran past the park I saw/heard this exuberant group climbing on the play ground equipment and singing “Back to school. Back to school. To prove to dad that I’m…”
Wow. What a first day. I can only imagine what the afternoon/evening will be like. Is this reality all around the world?
No – it’s not, but it may not be far off for some parents. Maybe there is a take away or two. Yep. They just came to me. Here are some first day feelings for fabulous families dealing with todays new found freedom.
Parenting is not a burden. It is a blessing. Parenting is not an American right. It is a privilege. Don’t ever forget that and don’t get confused. This is the one test you can not afford to fail in life. They are your/our/God’s treasure.
Not all parents can take time off to walk their little one to school. Be grateful that you can and let’s not make it about you getting your freedom back. You only have 12 “first days” with each child so make the most of them. Some parents leave their home before the kids get up for school and are not home to greet them with cookies. They work two jobs at minimum wage and even that is not enough. To be available for your children is an extra gift, but also more opportunity to impact your little one. Don’t miss your moment.
You can’t live your life through them. Let them be who God created them to be. The world needs them to share their unique qualities and gifts with others. Parent’s should not bend and break their child to be like they want them to be or do what they want them to do. When they succeed let them be the story. When they fail let them find safety in your acceptance and affirmation. Remember it is not 19___ anymore. It is 2014. The world is different. Schools are different. Music,clothes, and tattoos are different, but kids are much the same. Love them. Let them believe in who they are. Learn to listen to what the say. Lead them towards maturity. (That means parents have to be and act mature at all times.)
Talk to your kids. Not through texting or social media. Have a discussion with them about their day (every day). For heaven’s sake don’t let your kid live their life through a phone. Face to face, words to ear, emotions translated without emoticons is the way communication works best. Try it tonight. You might be suprised.
Get ready for them to be grown and gone. I’m already dreading it, but I have been thinking about it for 15 years. My little boy is now a big boy and only has 3 “first days” left. Then off to college and home only for the holidays. That is the way life is supposed to work and if we have done our job he will be ready. He may be ready already, but I’m not. He is no longer a kid, but he is not quite an adult either. He is emerging. So I am preparing by learning to treat him like an adult, talk to him like an adult, and give him adult like jobs even though he is yet to drive or kiss a girl (I hope). Him leaving will only be the end of the world if I have not gotten BOTH he and I ready for it.
Do something for yourself by helping others. Sitting at home watching the clock and trolling Facebook is a waste of time and opportunity. Volunteer to do something useful at your kid’s school. Try tutoring a kid that is struggling instead of organizing the Valentine Day’s party. Try running copies for your kids teacher instead of getting in the pick up line at 12:45. Be a bus buddy. Volunteer in special education department to just help a kid tie their shoe. Pray for your principal and encourage your lunch lady.
Make room in your life for other kids. Maybe God is getting your family ready to foster and/or adopt a child/children (400,000 kids in USA foster care.) Maybe you have a neighbor who is a single parent and desperately needs help. Maybe you could volunteer as a baseball coach, girl scout leader, youth group roadie, or just be a good role model for other dad’s wondering how to raise their kids. Maybe you go to church with a family of 10 whose parents are outnumbered and over extended. Lend your free time, free prayers, free love to an available child. There is more of you to go around than you think there is.
In six years I will have my last first day. I will cry for sure when JGB starts her senior year. BUT if I don’t make the most of these last few first days I will have cause to really cry. Not just from sadness that she is grown, but tears of sadness that I missed a million ways to show her (and those boys) how much I love them and how prized they are to their mother and I.
Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but the fool devours it. (Proverbs 21:20)