A month ago, I was sitting in a ladies meeting at my church. We were singing songs to Jesus and hearing good teaching from a favorite lady up front. It was an evening out for me, but my thoughts were on my home. My five year old was heavy on my heart.
Emmylou would be starting school in :6: (less than a week!) days, and it was hitting me. She was truly anxious. As a kid, I definitely had some anxiety surrounding the topic of school. Seeing that familiar pain in her was super hard for me to watch.
As we sang, my mind was on Emmy and I was praying for her throughout the time.
A main point of contention for her was the fact that we chose to put her in Pre-K for a second year. She is early in the cut-off line for entering school, and her teacher said she thought she would do fine to go ahead with Kindergarten.
“But,” she said “it would also be fine to put her through another year of Pre-K.” After all, she was the only one in her class last year who was not as tall as an Emperor Penguin 🐧, hehe. (Meaning, she was not only the youngest in her class a year ago, but the smallest.)
My husband and I don’t always agree on things right away, but somehow we both immediately agreed. Yes, maybe it would be good for her to have another year of just the same thing. Everyone who knows Emmy knows that she is small, but super smart. We never would have thought to have her repeat a year of school.
But after talking to her teacher, an extra year before :really: starting on that K-through-12 train felt like the perfect fit for our little girl. (It would also make her and Sadie closer in grades at school which is another big plus for us.)
We both felt peace about it, and we planned on it.
But, as it turned out, Emmy was not so into this idea. “Please Mommy, I want to go to Kindergarten!” “All my friends will be in Kindergarten !” “I want to be homeschooled like *insert names of several little friends who are homeschooled*!” There were lots of Please-Mommy-Please!-es.
Persistence and whining are some of this child’s many talents and strengths, but this was different. It was true pain in her little heart that I just couldn’t relieve.
Interestingly, I had always imagined I would homeschool. (Another post in and of itself, which I may or may not write someday.) And that seemed like a much more pleasant idea!
But for me, (and I know this is not true of most homeschool Mom’s, but for me,) when I search my heart, what I find most appealing about homeschool is that I would get to shield her from pain like this. Staying another year in Pre-K while all your friends go off to Kindergarten? Feeling left out and behind and awkward and out of place so early in your childhood development? Pish posh. Stay home with Mommy! May you never know that kind of pain!
But, no. Emmy loved school last year and we had faith she would love it again this year. And even though she pleaded and pleaded, we would stand firm and not change our decision.
So when we broke into groups for prayer after the meeting, I asked for prayer for Emmy. I felt a little silly! But no, of course it’s not silly. These kind of things matter to God. If He cares about the sparrows, He cares about my children. He cares about Emmy.
As I asked for prayer, I felt like God gave me the words to describe what I was feeling. “It’s like her first little form of suffering !” I said. I hadn’t thought about it like that till then, but that’s exactly what it was.
Her Dad and I felt peace about it, and we made the decision, but she didn’t understand. I hated putting her thorough that kind of pain! But we were trusting God. And I was praying for comfort for Emmy, and that somehow she could be excited for school.
So, that night at the ladies meeting, 6 days before school started, my friends prayed for my daughter.
The next night was a Back-to-School night of sorts, where the kids could visit their class and meet their teachers.
She didn’t say much on the drive over that night. But as we got closer to school, and we passed the familiar landmarks, she started to perk up a little. She decided to quickly color a picture to give to her teacher. Phew, a good sign!
She was a little shy as we approached the crowded classroom, but you could see there was relief and curiousity in her face. Shyly, yet sweetly she handed her teacher the picture she made and they chatted a little. “I think you’ve gotten taller, Emmy!”, was the first thing she said to her. My husband and I commented about how she’s probably as tall as an Emperor Penguin this year.
There was an assembly for families after classroom-time, and we all huddled in. I must confess Bron and I still feel a little uncomfortable as parents of a school age child. We have seen too many Christopher Guest movies and are always a little immature at school events, finding ways to make little jokes to each other about everyday moments that would work well for mockumentary humor.
But there was this moment when all the teachers were up on stage, and dance music started to play over the speakers. The teachers started to dance in somewhat of a choreographed fashion, and Emmys eyes lit up. Instead of making a Christopher Guest joke, I turned to my husband and said in his ear: “This is actually kind of awesome !”
I knew that room had to have been filled with quite a few kids who, like Emmy, were anxious about a new year of school. I loved that the teachers were letting down their guard and just being silly and fun. What a way to welcome the students back to school! I wanted to say “THANKYOU! This is just what my daughter needed! She was dreading school and now I’m pretty sure she thinks she goes to the coolest school ever!”
Some of the teachers then began coming into the aisle and pulling kids up to dance with them. Emmy’s teacher came right up to us, and knelt down to our little Emperor Penguin. She put out her hand and asked her to come up on stage with her.
Emmy loves all things pomp and festive and flashing lights and loud music, so I knew she would love to go up! But her personality vacillates between super shy and super confident, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But without hesitation, she joined her teacher. If I wasnt mistaken, I thought I saw a little skip in her step as she took her teacher’s hand and followed her down the aisle towards the stage.
She had the biggest smile on her face, and I knew this is exactly what she needed to get excited for school. On the way home I asked her if she danced up on stage with her teacher (it was hard to see her in the crowd). She said “Yeah, :and: I skipped down the aisle.”
I told her “I thought I saw that.”, and smiled to myself. She admitted that now she was a little bit excited for school. Thank you Jesus!
It wasnt till the next day as I reflected on it, that I could see how God’s kindness was written all over that evening. Emmy had been dreading school! She wasn’t seeing her Mommy and Daddy’s love for her in our decision to hold her back.
Visiting her classroom and chatting with her teacher seemed to calm her anxious heart. That would have been enough. But God had it so that her teacher would bring her up on stage to dance with her.
If you knew my daughter and her little personality, you would know how much that would mean to her!
It truly just seemed like God was reaching out to me, by reaching out to Emmy, and blessing her in such a specific way that spoke so specifically to her and who she is.
It gives me hope for the next time my husband and I make a decision that she hates, and I’ll have to watch her go through pain she doesn’t understand. I’ll pray for her and I’ll see how God works to comfort and encourage her.
And I’ll remind her of that time we had her do a second year of Pre-K and she didn’t want to, and we’ll remember how awesome it turned out in the end.
“And remember when your teacher brought you up on stage to dance with her?” I’ll say.
Maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself, as it’s only the third week of school. 🙂 But we’ve already seen a lot of good fruit in this decision to keep her back this year. And I’m confident God will continue to work, and I’m excited to see what He has in store.
I love Proverbs 14:26,
“In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence,
and his children will have a refuge.”
As my husband and I follow God’s leading as we make decisions for our family (whether to homeschool or not, to hold a child back in school or not, for example!), our confidence will be in Him, and our children will rest in the safe place of His Care shown through us.