School is back in session, and my baby is a senior. I’m both dreading and looking forward to the empty nest experience that will soon be my life. But for this year, I have decided to enjoy the time I have left with my youngest always being around. To that end, I am making it a point to be present at every single school activity he will allow me to attend. The years of being stretched thin with four school age kids have come to an end, and my baby will have to put up with too much mom time for the next few months.
Back to school night was last week so of course I went. Every parent has their child’s schedule in hand and races around the building meeting their kid’s teachers. We are given fifteen minutes in each classroom and five minutes to find the room. The bell rings every time we are supposed to switch classes. It’s like being a student again, except that the school is huge and arranged like a labyrinth. Seeing a mom curled into the fetal position and sobbing in the corner because she lost her way to the wood-tech room last year and ended up in a janitor’s closet, isn’t an unusual sight. Parents often run into the classroom fourteen minutes after the bell rings just in time to hear the teacher thank everyone for coming. The crestfallen adult then leaves and tries to find the next room before it’s too late. I attended a small, country school; there were a mere 66 people in my class. Maneuvering through the halls of a school that graduates approximately 500 every year always presents challenges to me.
One thing I noticed during my last back to school night was how parents still act like teenagers when they walk the halls of a high school decades later. The cheer moms clustered around each other squealing about the next cheer competition. It wasn’t hard to envision them with pom-poms and cheer outfits when they were younger. The former linemen scrunched themselves up into too small desks and tried not to fidget while the teachers explained what they would be teaching this year. These dads would invariably exchange stats about their son’s and which schools were recruiting them. The nerd dads still wear suspenders and nervously push their glasses up on the bridge of their nose and compare scholarships and MIT acceptance letters. Of course, the power parents look up from their cell phones just to let everyone know that their child is taking all A.P. courses and has already been accepted to an IV league school.
Everyone brags on their kid by whatever standard they deem most important. They compare the athlete, to the brain, to the musical talent and beam with pride when their child is noticed. It’s an understandable part of parenting, comparing your apple to another’s orange. I’m afraid that in our push to make our children the best athlete, scholar, or whatever; we forget the solid B student that has never touched a football and will have to settle for state school. The good kid that doesn’t cause problems and never gets noticed. Children like my youngest child.
I see all the remarkable God-given talents in the young man. His intelligence and quiet humor have the family rolling on the floor sometimes. He is the king of one-liners. He goes through life at his own pace, and at times, that’s a little frustrating; but he sticks to his guns and finishes what he sets out to do. He wasn’t awarded the rank of Eagle Scout until a year had passed after his project. By the skin of his teeth, he finished the last merit badge and turned in the paperwork for the honor. A week after his 18th birthday, he was able to go before the Board of Review and receive the necessary signatures to award him the honor. He did it, on his own time. Of course, as his mom, I am proud. But not just because of what he has done, but because of who he is in Christ.
Probably every parent finds their own children exceptional, even when the world doesn’t. God is the same way. He loves the nobody as much as the noticeable. He looks into the heart of each person and sees what really matters. Samuel went through all of Jesse’s sons before he came to the unlikely choice of David. He was focused on the outside just like most people in the world.
My son has a few months left in this chapter of his life. My prayer for him is that he realizes how important he is; not because of what he does, but because of who he is. God sees the unique beauty inside every person and wants us to do the same. It is hard to recognize the good in others when we are looking for a flawless complexion, perfect teeth, and an IV league diploma. What we do matters, but who are matters more.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.