Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fern's First Day (And Burl's Loving Welcome)

I probably shouldn't be publishing anything I write while in this emotional state. I'm a mixture of utter gratitude and heartbroken pain, because I feel all the feelings and like to name them one by one. (To name it is to tame it, in words of the counselor.)

First, there's Burl who started second grade this year. His seven year old goofiness is right on time, and he uninhabited enthusiasm is still there, one of my favorite things about him. "I'm so excited to start school again. I'm excited about my new teacher, seeing my new classroom, making new friends, learning cursive, and my new three ring binder." He rattled off this list with the smallest inquiry, "what are you excited about?"

It should be noted that our morning hustle is less hustle and more morning. It's just me getting four children fed, dressed, groomed, and out the door. It takes an hour and I did it without yelling and hardly any reminders. We even had time to read the Bible together! 

Because kindergarten does a gentle phase in, Fern's first day was the second day of school. It was the same routine but I felt completely different. The morning was still filled with excitement that fueled responsibility and kindness. John has been painstakingly teaching them to tie their own shoes because I told them I was going on strike this year. If they can do it themselves, then I need them to do it themselves. They slid into home plate at the last minute, and confidently did it themselves:

A touch of nerves hit Fern when I asked for my required photo shoot. She couldn't give a smile, but was focused on a piece of plant that she plucked for distraction. Whatever it takes, Fern, you're allowed to do this big thing.

When we got to school, I pulled out my mom book of tricks and promised a trip to the bakery after school if they gave me a smiling picture. Deal made. 

I didn't realize how excited (excited, there's that word again) Burl was to have Fern at school with him. He told me about a plan that he's been working on for a few years. He's mentioned it occasionally, but I never picked up on it until it finally unfolded. He said that he talked to his teacher about helping Fern get her lunch on the first day. He arranged all the details, and I heard reports from a few teachers that it was the cutest scene. He took his big brother/school host responsibility serious, and ushered her through the ups and downs of the school lunch line. "Only get chocolate milk, the white milk is disgusting!" Fern also told me that she let her preferences be known, "Burl got me a peanut butter sandwich, but I put it back because I wanted pizza instead." 

They told me about a playground passing as well. When one was going in, one was coming out. When Burl saw Fern, ran to her and picked her up with a giant hug. Their bond is stronger than I realized. 

Because I feel things deeply and with my whole body, I could barely eat all day (a problem I rarely have). Ridge asked me several times where they were and eventually started answering his own question with a sad "kule" for school. We numbed ourselves with snuggles, naps, and Curious George on repeat. 

When we walked up to get them at the end of the day, Fern saw us across the lawn. Her face lit up, she jumped to her feet, and sprinted towards us like a seen from a movie. Reunion was finally home. She ran quickly to me, I knelt down for our embrace, and she ran past me straight to Ridge. They hugged for a long time, holding tight, and the teachers let out a sweet sigh with me. Then, I finally got my hug. We grabbed Burl from his line, interrupting a serious discussion about fidget spinners, and we walked to the car. Fern asked right away, "can I come back tomorrow?" That was the only sign I needed that she had a great day, and I remembered Burl's response to his first day of kindergarten. "Can I live there?"

We went to the bakery, drove home, and I heard so many stories all night! I thanked Fern for telling me about her day, because there's no live webcam for obsessive parents to watch!

I knew she would love it, but my mom-ness still had me worried. Those worries turned into prayers, and those prayers were answered and more so! The Lord proved his constant promise to be with them. (It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31.8)

From here we will move into another new chapter. I will pack the lunches, say our prayers, and walk with Jesus through the tension of change. Jesus loves us, this I know.

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