We are just three months away from you conquering not only the fifth grade, but grade school altogether.
I cannot deal with this.
You and your dad are doing your best to help me out. But still. I cannot. I couldn’t even bring myself to go to the parent meeting last week for incoming sixth graders. I hid behind Caleb and Lydi and looking after them. So there you have it: your mom is a coward.
I promise to come through for you when it counts. But for a little while here, I’m simply overwhelmed by the immense distance — with painful steps and slow — that we’ve come together, my sweet little man…who’s not so little anymore. Gone are the days when we’d tape each letter of the alphabet on the stairs and march up and down reciting them, over and over and over again. Gone are the days when we’d pick up that blasted pencil one more time to take another stab at writing your name. Gone are the multiplication flash cards and the daily behavior logs and the winter you lost NINE pairs of mittens. Gone are the trips to the store with you sitting high in the cart waving and repeating “Hi!” to every single person we met. Gone are the trio of therapists for speech and fine and gross motor skills.
What’s not gone is my burgeoning respect for you. Let’s face it, our trek through grade school hasn’t exactly been one characterized by sunshine and roses. More like obstacles and redo’s. But still you shine with a humility that’s nearly otherworldly.
Through all of that, I have come to love you in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. A fierce, protective way forged by learning how to soldier on together. Even when we didn’t like one another much. Even when our days were filled with screaming. Even when we’d given up. We’ve been tied together for eleven years, running our own personal three-legged race.
We are about to reach the finish line, my beloved Blondie.
It’s time to loosen the tie a bit, to stand on your own two feet, to expand your horizon into middle school.
I will, of course, always go with you, but it won’t be the same as these sacred, controlled, safe grade school days. It’s time for my reach into your life to become less so that your self-sufficiency can become more. I am confident that you can do this.
I am, however, fearful of the lessons that may lie ahead. One of my greatest, most pressing burdens for you, dear Josiah, is that you know what real love is. I want you to experience healthy relationships and know the difference between the ones worth keeping and the ones you should run from. It’s a drawback of that literal mind of yours — you judge your circumstances in oversimplified black and white terms. As in, if you immediately got what you wanted, even if it was fleeting and unsatisfying, then you were loved. If you didn’t get what you wanted or had to wait for it, then you are hated. There’s no room in your mind for the kind of love that tells hard truths or expects more effort or denies things that it knows aren’t good for you.Likewise, there’s much room for counterfeit affection.
And with that vulnerability, into the cauldron of middle school we go. Don’t think for one minute that I haven’t thought about homeschooling from here on out. Your dad and I have and will go to great lengths to protect you, but if your astounding tenacity has earned you anything, it’s the right to try to spread those wings.We won’t deny you that. But know this: you are a precious treasure to me, and I’ll never be far from you. If ever the need arises, I’ll be back in that three-legged race with you in a flash.
While my fear is acute, so is my excitement. Because I see things. Good things. Like the day you had an appointment right after school, and I couldn’t wait for you to walk from the bus stop; I had to drive the van down to the corner to meet you there so we could save some time. In my rearview mirror I saw you were the first one off the bus. You took a few steps away from the open door, then stopped as though you remembered something, turned, and went back. You waved to the driver, and I heard you say, “Bye, George!”
No one else did that.
And, of course, there’s Mikey. I’m not sure what his circumstances are, but it’s clear from what you’ve shared at home that his struggles are far more profound than your own. You’ve become fast friends, which is a good thing because when Mikey’s aide is having trouble calming him down, you’re the one she sends for to lend a hand.
No one else does that.
Just this afternoon, Caleb came wheeling into the kitchen yelling that he needed to go to the bathroom. Seeing that I was up to my elbows in supper prep, you volunteered to take him. I’ll never stop smiling at the patient way I overheard you talking him through it.
No one else did that.
Josiah, Jesus loves you and it’s His eternal, genuine love that comes through you in those moments. Cling to it. It’s the real deal, and Jesus’ love is the only kind that can drive out the fake shadow of affection that you’re prone to idolize. The more you taste the real thing, the more you won’t be able to live without it.
Now you know just what I’m praying for as we make this transition. Our God didn’t bring us this far to abandon us; He’s faithful to finish what He started. Onward we go. Always together.
Love you so very, very much,