Summer School

Caroline 2009

Yesterday was the start of summer school for one of my little ones.  She had been dreading it all summer.  We bribed, cajoled, encouraged, and finally laid down the law.  This was not optional, so let’s make the best of it.

I prayed all night Sunday night and into Monday morning.  I prayed for her teacher, that she would be kind and sympathetic to my timid little girl.  I prayed for the program, that it would be fun and engaging.  I prayed for the other kids assigned to the class, that there would be a friend in her midst.  I prayed mostly for my daughter, that she would be brave, or at least that I would be able to leave her without a dramatic scene.

All morning, we talked about it.  She said it was unfair.  I told her life is not fair.  She said she was scared.  I hugged her and told her that it was okay to be scared.  I assured her that the hardest part would be walking in for the first time, that it would get easier after that.

We all climbed into the car and drove to the school.  She climbed out slowly, her arms crossed over her chest, her head down like a lamb being led to slaughter.  I wondered if that’s what Isaac looked like when Abraham walked him up that hill to the altar.  I put my arm around her and guided her across the parking lot.

When we entered the gymnasium, I quickly located her teacher’s name on a hand-written sign on the wall.  As I led her over to meet her class, I spotted a familiar face.

“Look!” I exclaimed, “Look who’s here!”

For the first time since leaving the car, my daughter tore her gaze off the floor, and when she saw a friend from her kindergarten class, she awkwardly threw her arms around the other little girl in relief.  As hard as I tried to stop them, I felt the familiar sting of tears welling up in my eyes.  Hormonal much?

My daughter still didn’t look any happier to be there, but I knew that the worst was over, and at least she had a friend.

We met the teacher, who was exactly as I was hoping.  She was pretty and friendly and kind.  She saw the looks of fear and trepidation on my daughter’s face, and she immediately began telling her how much fun she was going to have and assured her that the kids from the first group she had taught that morning were excited about coming back tomorrow.  There was also a teenage girl to assist the teacher, and my daughter adores older girls.

As I turned to leave, I silently sent up a prayer of thanks — one more hurdle crossed in this race we call parenting.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could protect our kids from everything unpleasant in the world?  But then, I guess there would be no opportunity for them to develop character.