I am feeling so very sentimental at this moment. Actually, it has been building for the last couple of months.
I feel like it is our son's first day of school... except... it is actually his LAST day of H.S. and then he will start college in the fall. More milestones!
This son is the baby - who is now 18 and will be 19 in October. Our other son is 26 and soon to be 27 in August.
They both went to nursery school and I was sentimental about their little preschool graduations - again another milestone. But that 1st day of public school - tore at my heart strings.
Both sons were 6 when they began kindergarten and I am glad that we had that extra growth year with them. Another year to plant seeds of good family values, etc. so that they would be that much stronger and wiser to resist the negative influences that they would no doubt encounter along life's journey.
First son was profoundly shy (he's anything but shy now) and resisted going to school that first day. It was time to take him out to the bus stop except this wonderful child decided to crawl under the kitchen table and while sobbing, simultaneously say, "Mommy - P.L.E.A.S.E don't MAKE me go to school!" Truth is I wanted to cry right along with him (he was ripping my heart out at that point) but I went into our bedroom to collect myself instead. The truth is -EVERYTHING in me really wanted to say, "It's o.k. honey. You can stay home and I will just breast feed you for the rest of my life." That is exactly what went through my head at that moment.
He looked so cute wearing his kindergarten bus tag. He seemed both little and vulnerable on the bus while looking down at me as we waved good bye. I stayed there, watching the bus until it disappeared out of sight. The bus stop is right near our property and so I started sobbing across the street, across our lawn - all the way into the house. Then, I started to enjoy my free time and we were both perfectly fine the next day.
Second son was more eager to go but by that time - 8 years later - there were other kids in the neighborhood and they were excited about going to school. Even older brother was at the bus stop as he was still in grade school, but at the other end of the spectrum - 8th grade.
(Older son had been an only child when he started school and didn't have other friends he was going with and he was shy. So, there was a totally different dynamic going on.)
This morning images of younger son were flashing through my mind as he was walking out to catch his ride to school. I was getting flashes of him at the bus stop wearing his little kindergarten name tag around his neck. He was wearing these really nice (Tasteful) Osh Gosh plaid pants, cute shirt and suspenders.
(I loved those Osh Gosh clothes! I got him and older son to wear suspenders up until 2nd grade - after that they refused! I love suspenders on men too as I think they look really sharp - but husband never liked them either. It must be genetic!)
Younger son looked so little,cute and vulnerable on the bus too. I also watched until that bus disappeared but I didn't cry because there were other mothers there and we were all too busy socializing! :) Still when I walked across the lawn to go in the house - I was wistful, but I didn't cry.
This morning I took a couple of pictures for a memento of the last time he is leaving to go to H.S. and then I took a couple of him and his friend after he got into his friend's vehicle. So this morning - there was no kindergarten bus tag around his neck, no Osh Gosh pants and no suspenders. Instead, the piture will be of our 6 ft something son with a goatee looking down at his Mom. :)
Then I got a couple of shots of them in the truck waving back at me. And now with their very deep manly voices shouting good bye as they drove down the road. I watched the truck disappear out of site. *sigh*
I didn't cry but I could feel the tears - sort of there or maybe they were only in my thoughts. And so I started blogging about my feelings. That was short lived though as younger son called from his cell to ask if I could please bring something to school for him. It was an odd feeling to think that this was the last school errand I would be running - maybe even fitting and even though simple, it felt so good to do it.
Then I went to McDonalds and got a fast food breakfast - comfort food no doubt. I haven't had a fast food breakfast since I stopped working for Lifeline in May 2006. It was s-o-o-o SALTY! I could taste the oil too - yuk! But, I forgot how much I liked those biscuits! :) I came home - made some more coffee and continued writing this post.
Afterthoughts: When they go off to kindergarten they from that point on will be exposed to and sometimes affected by outside influences. That is as it should be - moving forward - forging a path of new beginnings that will hopefully lead them to fulfilling their destinies - what they were created to do. They still have home and family influences but the dynamic does change.
Of course we welcome all the wonderful changes and opportunities but it is the negative forces that you know they will also encounter to varying degrees that caused me to feel like I wanted to put them in a plastic bubble of protection.
Good parenting is realizing that as much as we wish we could protect our children from all the bad encounters and experiences - that we can't. We can and should be there for them as the anchor for their storms and the light house illuminating the better path and be their rock of unconditional love and port of safety. We can and should be their solid foundation from which self confidence, compassion, wisdom, respect and love is developed. We can teach them to think independently - to see a situation for what it is and from that make sound decisions.
Most importantly - teach them about God. Help to instill faith in their creator and steer them into developing a personal relationship with God and because we are Christians - for us, specifically Jesus Christ. I always wanted them to know how much they were loved by God. I taught them that God was there all the time - even when people weren't. I taught them the salvation message and why that was more important than anything else in their lives. I told them that education was important, that money helped to make things nice and that friends and family were especially important but that salvation was THE most important of all because that determines where they will spend eternity. I also taught them to pray for healing because God does heal the sick. I just wanted them to know that no matter what happens in life that God is there for them and if they let him direct their paths, if they seek his guidance - it will always work out for good.
I remember a friend's mother who had 5 kids once telling me that she used to say. "All I can do is my best and now I let God do the rest." In the end that is all we can do. Just try to do our best. We made mistakes as parents. There are plenty of things I wish I could do differently. I think we all can say that about our lives in general. However, it is humanly impossible to always be there for our kids, but God in his omnipotence is. So I taught the boys about having faith in God. I wanted them to understand that there are people that "know of "God and then there are people that "know" God. There is the impersonal text book knowledge type of faith that really is memorization, etc and then there is a real relationship of love, trust and knowledge. One is forced the other is life giving. Even if they stray from God (and I think most of us do) I have always taken comfort in this scripture (I think from Proverbs - not sure) -"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." I also believe that when we have an active faith in God that it helps to keep us on the right track and when we stray (I think we all do) it is like a compass, helping us to find our way back.
One day when I was in the check-out line at our local supermarket with our first born son who was then a year old, an elderly lady looked at him, smiled and said, "Ohhhhh, these are the happy years." She meant well but it kind of haunted me because she was inferring enjoy them now - you won't always have this. I know what she meant but I didn't want to think about it. I also wondered if she was lonely.
Then after our 2nd son was born, someone else came up to me and while looking at him said, "Just remember - you can never go back." I did find that useful and have reflected back on that statement many times when making certain decisions.
They have grown up to be two fine, intelligent, discerning and compassionate young men with marvelous senses of humor too. We are privileged to be their parents and are so very proud of them. :)
You really don't realize how fast time moves on. Not so much in grade school, but when they hit H.S. - it seems like time flew by.
**We have a real busy few days coming up. Sunday- Father's day, Monday-my birthday and Tuesday- sons' graduation! So if I go MIA - that is why.