I spent all summer worrying about kindergarten. Worrying so much and so often that there was literally – LITERALLY – no space left in my brain for anything else. I managed to do laundry and make grocery lists and spend quality time with my children, but the moment I had a spate of peace and quiet and nothing to do with my hands I was either panicking about the impendingness of kindergarten or burying myself in a book (I read 30 this summer alone) to try to dull the realization that every day that went by was one day closer to the boarding of the (real and proverbial) bus.
I am not, AT ALL, an anxious person by nature. Not the least little bit, even. And I cannot ever remember feeling this helpless or scared. Not even after I'd had BABIES. And I couldn't blog about it – for one thing, I didn't want a written record of my summer to reflect nothing but abject terror; for another, it is too hard to communicate exactly what it IS that frightened me about kindergarten without opening myself up to comments and suggestions and pity when I don't want pity, or stories about how there will always be some kids who hate school, when I didn't want to hear stories about kids who hated school. I am the kind of person who assumes the best of people, so trust me when I say that I know – I KNOW – if I had written about this and gotten comments and advice and emails filled with support and encouragement, I would have had no doubt that they would have been written with kindness and love at the root.
That said, I would have had a hard time not seeing it all as criticism, especially in the state I was in. I didn't want to be in a place where people were pouring out love to me the best way they knew how while all the while I was filtering it through this mesh strainer of suspicion, wondering if they were just secretly judging me. I also have a hard time getting a comment that's meant to be helpful but (to me, the person who is in the muck of it all) seems to misunderstand the situation at hand – I automatically want to write back and CORRECT the person who wrote it, but 99 percent of the time, that's just impossible. There is simply no way to explain the intricacies of raising this particular five-year-old on a blog that amounts to a handful of paragraphs every week or in an email. Nothing I say is going to adequately express the true nature of this child, and trying to do it would just frustrate me. It's the part of me that wants to please everyone; that wants to make sure everyone understands my side of the story because I don't like anyone thinking anything but positive things about me. I want people to know I'm trying; I'm trying HARD, I'm trying the BEST WAY I KNOW HOW. Why do I need people to know this? I don't know. I don't honestly know. But this wasn't the place to work it all out. I knew that much.
A couple of weeks ago I got a random email from an old friend I haven't seen or heard of since high school. We were close in elementary school but simply grew apart as the years went by. She contacted me to say she was moving back to the area and could I recommend a preschool for her three-year-old? A few days later her son was signed up for the same class Lucy would be in, and I emailed her again to ask if I would be seeing her at orientation. No, she replied, I start work on Tuesday and my mom will be taking him. We emailed a little more, talked about getting together and catching up. It was about that time that I finally got Asher's elementary school information in the mail. I learned his teacher's name, his bus route, and tucked in to the envelope was a form letter explaining that the school had been approved – at the very last minute – for THREE kindergarten classes instead of two. There was a search for a new teacher going on and they would let us know as soon as possible that the position was filled.
A few more emails were sent between my friend and myself, and I eventually asked where she was starting work. You can see where this is going, can't you? Not only is she teaching at Asher's school, she is also the brand new kindergarten teacher.
I had spent the last three weeks in a pretty much constant state of prayer for Asher's kindergarten experience. I prayed for his teacher and his classmates; for his courage and for him to give and receive kindness to those he came into contact with. But more than anything, I simply prayed that I would be able to trust God to take care of him. Because this whole thing, his shyness, his timidity, his reluctance – is not something I can control. But I believe that my God loves this boy as his own, more even than I do, and I trust that whatever happens, that He will use it for good. It wasn't a question of whether I WANTED to believe that (it's a hard, HARD thing to believe) – it was just something I HAD TO DO. It was my only hope; the last shred I had to cling to.
When I heard the news about my friend, it's almost like I felt the hand of God patting me on the shoulder and saying, “See? I can do this.” It's not that I expect her to take Asher under her wing or protect him or even look out for him. It really has nothing to do with her except that I believe it was God's way of saying, hey! Emily! Look what I can do. Look at what the world considers a coincidence, but we both know it was my way of letting you know that nothing is too small for me. Asher is not too small for me. Trust me in this.
I got goosebumps when I read that final email. I felt an immediate and discernible change in my attitude and my expectations. Even more amazing, I saw a change in ASHER as well. Nothing about the fact that I suddenly knew someone in his school would have made an iota of difference to him – but I saw it anyway. I saw him relax, I saw him gain confidence, I saw him get a little bit excited. I saw an answer to my prayers.
I didn't do any of this on my own. When I was at my weakest, my lowest, my most frightened, I called out and I asked for help and I asked that my eyes be opened to whatever that “help” might look like. And I got to see it.
Asher had his first day today. It wasn't perfect. It wasn't easy. Everyone cried at some point. But I felt a quiet strength in it, too. We are being watched over and protected. We are being loved. I am so lucky – so blessed – to have this experience, as bizarre and unexplainable as it might sound. I would go through this whole summer again just for those moments of feeling the God of the universe care exquisitely just for me. I am yearning to feel it again.