I’ve been saying for weeks now that I’m totally okay with Ella starting Kindergarten. Today was the day. We arrived in plenty of time to fight the terrible traffic mess that had gathered in front of the schools (someone thought it would be really bright to place two elementary schools right next to each other on a neighborhood street). We found a parking place and took a deep breath. Ella did great all the way into the classroom and over to her seat. Then the tough moment came…
We had to leave. You’ll notice in the photo that Ella’s hands are on her ears. This has been her sign of trepidation for quite some time. We’re not sure what she’s hearing, but we’re sure she doesn’t want to hear any more of it! As Angie and I headed across the classroom and out the door, Ella turned her head away from everyone else and began to cry softly. She wouldn’t call out, as that might attract attention. She just cried.
Now I have to tell you the strange part of what I’ve been feeling since that moment. I’ve been divided in half. On the one hand, I think this is a very important step for her. She’s been painfully shy and quite fearful of uncertain situations, but life is full of uncertainties. She’s going to be meeting new people in every class and at every job for the rest of her life. She’s going to have to face new challenges and learn to stand up and speak up when the time comes. I was shy too, just like Ella. It never got easy, but interacting with others is just what we do from now until the grave.
Then, there was the other side of me. For a brief moment, homeschooling crossed my mind, not for any spiritual or religious reasons but only because home is the one place where we can shield her from anything of which she will ever be afraid. Bugs and bees are outside the door, people and academic challenges await her at school. Bullies and boyfriends will be her lot as she grows through the grade levels. All of this terrifies me just a bit, as the Daddy whose little girl needs my protection.
Somewhere in the middle is perhaps the place where our hearts ought to lie. We must love them, and release them. We must prepare them for evil, and shelter them from it. We must make home heaven for them, and launch them into the real world. Our hearts should break over our children’s fears, but we are right to let them go, to force them to face each next step. Life is really made of those steps.
As for me, I’m okay. As for Ella, I’m pretty sure it will be several weeks before she adjusts, if not several school years. As for Momma, I admire her more today than ever as a Mom, and as a little girl in a grown up body who doesn’t want to be left alone. Here I am, one guy placed on this earth to protect two precious girls, a Momma and her daughter. I suppose my only recourse is to depend fully upon the grace of our magnificent God to carry me and my family along. Maybe Ella might catch that vision, and find her fears released as she learns to trust the Father more each day.
I have work to accomplish today, but I can’t wait for 3:00 to come!