And there he goes. Joshua is off for his very first first day of school. And I’m trying to hold it together.
Both Jana and I though we wouldn’t be “those” parents. But guess what? We are them. Big time. Those parents that cry when their kid steps into the classroom. Those parents who sit by the phone during the morning in case they get a call from the administration. Those parents who can’t believe that six years has already come and gone.
Along with the first day of school, there come alot of questions at least in my mind:
Is he prepared for the challenges of being in the world, but not being of the world?
How will he handle the fact that not everybody he meets is going to be nice to him?
Did we make the right choice in choosing public school over home or private school?
How is this experience going to change him and our family?
How long is it going to be before he is simply too cool for all the things he used to do?
So as I reflect on his little room in our home, still filled with stuffed animals and pictures and toys that he might soon decide he’s too old for, I’m trying to sort through, with a spirit of wisdom, all the emotions. And for me, I think it comes down to this:
I suddenly feel very out of control. And that’s hard for me, especially with Joshua.
It was almost four years ago that my son was diagnosed with leukemia. Close to a year ago that he went off of chemotherapy. But throughout those four years, the control thing has been a constant battle for me. Today I’m feeling the same thing I have felt many times over the course of these past few years whenever Joshua has entered something new.
His first baseball practice.
His first overnight sleepover.
Even the times when I’ve taken him to play on the playground. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to let him go and play with the other kids instead of hovering over him to make sure he is protected. Maybe that’s the fear of losing him that comes from cancer coming out in me. Maybe not. Regardless, it seems to be about control.
This, I choose to believe, is where the gospel is brought to bear on the first first day of school. We’ve tried our best to prepare Joshua. To teach him about Jesus. To raise him in love and faith. But have we done enough?
Unquestioningly, no. We have not. I have not.
I have not been the perfect father.
I have not been the perfect teacher.
I have not been the perfect example.
But the gospel? Well, the gospel is God making up for what we lack. And in parenting, as in all cases, we lack very, very much. The gospel doesn’t excuse our lack; it assumes our lack. Because of Jesus, in this situation where I can’t do much else, the only avenue left for me is to believe.
Which ironically, is where I should have started to begin with.
In your grace, Father, take care of our son this morning.