Today is the first day back to school in Artesia and can I just say – I love seeing all the “First Day of School” pictures my friends post on Facebook! I do! I love seeing how much their children are growing, how emotional they, as parents, are as they drop their children off, and how excited/nervous/anxious the students claim to be.
I’d also like to give a big shout out to Facebook for implementing the Time Hop feature that allows us to see pictures the same parents posted of the same children at this time four or five years ago! Love it! It’s neat to see missing teeth filled in with big ol’ bucky beavers, pudgy, baby faces slimmed down as they age, and nervous grins replaced by annoyed half-smiles. Adorable, I tell ya! And don’t even get me started on the students heading off to college! I’ve shed a few tears for them as well!
As much as I love summer break and all the perks that come along with it, I welcome Back to School time with open arms! I mean, I love sleeping in and relaxing by the pool all day, don’t get me wrong, but by the end of summer, if my children so much as lay eyes on one another the fight is on and I’m once again playing referee. It’s maddening. And being a “work at home” mom, getting any work done at all while your children are home all day long is next to impossible. If I so much as glance at my laptop, my four-year-old “is dooone!” and needs a wipe or my 10-year-old can’t wait a second longer to have a conversation about having a friend come over. Back to School time means we all get back into our routines and life resumes to some kind of normalcy (whatever that means!).
With that being said, I thought I’d share with you the crux, or heart, of my prayer last night as we put our children to bed. I’ll start by saying; of course I want my child and every other student in our entire school system to have a safe and successful school year. I do. I want him to thrive, both academically and emotionally. I want him to be happy and get good grades. I want other kids to treat him nicely and I want his teacher to understand who he is. I want those things but here’s what I want more and here’s what I prayed, out loud, over my son last night – I prayed for him to have strength and boldness to do what’s right and conviction if and when he doesn’t. I prayed for wisdom – for him, for his teacher and principal and for my husband and me as we navigate his education this year. I prayed that God would ease and calm the nerves of his teacher, who is fairly new to the community and new to the school. I prayed that our son will have the courage to let the light of Christ shine brightly in everything he says and everything he does. These are the things that matter most.
You see, I know Jackson will not have a flawless year. My daughter, Mollie, starts her second year of preschool next week and I’ll pray the same thing over her. And I know she will not have a flawless year either. They are children, they deal with human emotions and they are far from perfect. But just because they are imperfect doesn’t mean we, as parents, can sit idly by and not provide direction and encouragement. We are the first step in making sure our children get the absolute most out of their education. But we are also the first step in making sure our children know the difference between right and wrong, know the importance of treating others kindly, know their value, and know how to value others. We are the first step in teaching our children to respect, listen to and obey their teachers. And we must be the ones to teach them to treat the school’s property even better than they treat their own, pick up what they drop and clean up after themselves. We can’t place the entire burden on teachers, principals, pastors or Sunday school teachers. It starts at home. It starts with us.
Friends, there is so much craziness that goes on in our world. Our children see and hear and feel all of it. They might not verbalize all of those feelings, but they’re there. They know our anger. They sense our resentment. They feed off our anxiety and can become immobilized by our fears. In the same light, these precious children see how we treat others. They feel our love and share in our joy. They learn from our actions and those little sponges soak up everything we say and do. I don’t know about you, but to me, that is both scary and encouraging!
I hope that as we begin another school year, you too will pray big prayers over your children. Pray great big, bold prayers over our future leaders. Pray over their teachers and administrators. Pray over their classmates and peers. Pray that you will have the insight to raise children worthy of praise and able to contribute to the betterment of society. Pray that you will be a living example of grace and integrity for your children to learn by. Pray, because we can’t be there with them at all times, but God can and He is!