My hands paused for an extra moment this morning; hovering over the shoes that would carry you off to Kindergarten. For a fleeting moment I thought if I waited long enough I could turn back the clock. Perhaps time would settle into stillness long enough so I could revisit all the times I’ve rushed you out of childhood and forgotten you are still beautifully wrapped in innocence and wonder.
My throat tightened the way it always does before the tears start to fall. Your feet danced back and forth with excitement, this new beginning pulsing through your body. Your sister and brother helped you with your new backpack and asked you questions you were too excited to hear. As the oldest you not only forge this path for yourself, but you also make a way for them when their time comes.
I felt myself slipping towards shame, replaying all the moments I’ve gotten it wrong, all the moments you deserved more of me, all the moments I’d wished for a do over. I could have wallowed there in the shame and guilt, but instead I received a simple gift of grace. I looked down at my hands again and remembered. I remembered how they’d received you on the day you were born. They were gentle with you and held you close. They protected you and provided for you. They comforted your hurts and pains. They tickled you until your belly was full of laughter. They did whatever they could to reassure you that you belong.
So my son, as you begin this new adventure take a look at your hands. Think of all they will help you create, and all they will help you do. Some of your creations will earn you gold stars and the praises of your teachers, but there is something even more important that your hands can do. They can be a gift to your classmates. Think of they way your hands could receive the lost and lonely ones. Think of how gentle your hands could be towards the hurting and the broken ones. Think of how your hands could protect the most vulnerable ones.
As you gave us your final hugs before skipping into your new classroom you whispered in my ear the phrase you’ve learned to repeat whenever we part ways, “I am good, I am loved.” I smiled through the emerging tears, hopeful that you were beginning to understand that there is nothing more true about you. And so from that place you are sent out. You get to go, and dream, and play, and learn, but you also have the chance to do whatever you can to reassure your classmates that they belong. And when you start to forget what’s most true about you, or you start to live too deeply into shame and guilt my hands will be gentle with you and hold you close all over again and whisper in your ear what’s most true about you; “you are good, you are loved.”
Godspeed my little adventurer. I’ll be waiting at the bus stop.