Thursday, September 29, 2016

There Is Hope

This past week my boys have been all aflutter about trying to get onto the student counsel at their school. Joey (8th grade) is running for vice president of the school and Tommy and Ben are both running for their class's representative (6th grade and 4th grade, respectively). All three boys needed to write speeches. The candidates for representatives would give their speeches to their respective class and the president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer candidates would give their speeches in front of the whole school.

For days the boys worked on their speeches. I stayed out of it only stepping in to correct Ben's grammar in a few spots after he asked me to look it over. Other than that I felt it was the boys' responsibility to write their own speeches. I hadn't even read Tommy or Joe's speeches.

Yesterday, the morning of the speeches, Tommy came up to me and asked me if we could bring cupcakes into his class. I asked him why he wanted to bring in cupcakes. He said, "I want to tell my class that if they vote for me I will bring in cupcakes."  Oh boy. Bribery at its finest.  I asked Tommy if he was buying the cupcakes with his money and he assured me that he would. I shrugged my shoulders and told him to do what he wants.

I thought of the boys often throughout the day knowing how nervous they had been to give their speeches. Towards the end of the day the school posted the speeches (for Pres, VP, Treasurer, and Secretary) on Facebook. I watched and listened to the young candidates make their cases and then it was Joey's turn. Joey got up in front of his school and gave his speech and it brought me to tears. He began his speech saying how he wanted to make this year a great one for everyone. He gave his ideas for fun events and field trips. He spoke about working hard for his fellow school mates and being a friend to all. And then towards the end of his speech he praised the other candidates running for vice president. He told all the students that the other candidates were smart and had great ideas too. In fact, he said, they may be better than him but he would work very hard to make his school proud. He went on to say that in the 10 years he has been at that school (since 4K) he has been given so much that he wanted to give back to the school. He ended with thanking everyone and saying, "God bless everyone!"

I am not lying when I say I was not the only one in tears. I am told that the principal was welling up along with a few teachers and parents. To say I am proud would be a severe understatement. If only our current candidates for president could carry themselves with such grace and humility.

I couldn't wait until Joey got home so that I could tell him how much his speech meant to me. I walked down to the bus stop to meet the kids as they were walking down the street. Tommy excitedly ran up to me and announced that he was chosen to be his class's representative by a landslide. I congratulated him and chuckled to myself thinking that the cupcakes probably had a little bit to do with that.

Joey and Ben still weren't sure of their fates, as the votes hadn't been tallied for them yet, but I let them know how proud I was regardless of the outcome.

That evening, our one free evening without football practice, was spent stacking wood and playing basketball. I'd made a fire in our fireplace and we had the kids' favorite taco dinner. I made them a special strawberry shortcake dessert too. It was a special night.

As Tommy and I sat by the fire I asked him when he needed to bring the cupcakes in to his class.

He said, "Oh, I didn't put that part in my speech."

Surprised, I asked, "You didn't? Why not?"

Tommy replied, "Well, there were a couple of kids running for representative who don't have a lot of money so they wouldn't be able to offer something like that. I didn't think it would be fair if I said that."

And with that my heart melted. How on earth had I gotten such amazingly kind and compassionate children?

I gave Tommy a big hug, thanked him, and told him that that was a very loving and wise decision.

This year's political mess has really gotten to me. It is just so sickening. But listening to my kids I know there is hope for this world yet.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Waiting Patiently

Molly really looks forward to 3:15 every day. She loves greeting her kids.  

Thursday, September 1, 2016

That Old Melancholy

Here we are at the first day of school again and I am feeling that old familiar melancholy. 
(I am loving the reflection of the American flag)

I was doing well this morning. We had our ducks all in a row and everything ran very smoothly. We even arrived at school early and had plenty of time for extra photos. The kids were thrilled with the extra photos part. I jest.

But they did oblige me with more than a fair share of pictures. I just had this urge to take as many pictures as I could. After all, this is the last first day of school with ALL of my kids at the same school. It was kind of a big deal. 
The last year all of my kids will ever go to the same school together. Wow. That really hit home. My kids really do enjoy each other so much. They hang with each other at lunch. They play together at recess. They are always searching each other out. I used to worry about it. I wondered if they would ever form strong enough bonds with friends their own age if they constantly stayed within their sibling group. I don't really think about that anymore. They have friends, but honestly? I think they still prefer each other's company.  I wonder if they will ever know how lucky they are to have that. And I hope and pray it stays that way.

One by one I followed the kids to their classrooms. I watched Joey and Tommy set their backpacks in their lockers and head into their classrooms. Moments later a nervous Tommy came out and asked me what I thought he should do. I told him that maybe he could organize his books into the order of his classes. Or maybe ask the teacher. Tommy marched up to his new middle school teacher and said, "Excuse me, what would you suggest I be doing right now?" I had to turn away quickly to stifle my giggle. It was adorable. 

As Tommy and Joe organized their books I walked Ben and Grace downstairs to their classrooms. More pictures were taken and good-bye hugs and kisses were given. Though the kids seemed fine I had a hard time pulling myself away from their classrooms. 

I hung around in the hallways at school far longer than I needed to. I kept peeking into classrooms. Checking in. Tommy caught my eye and came out to show me how he had arranged his notebook for optimum organization. The kid was nervous for his first day of middle school. So many changes. "It's a little overwhelming, actually." he told me in the hallway before heading back into the class room. 

For me too, Tommy. Me too. It is all just overwhelming. Watching these little people grow by leaps and bounds every day. It is overwhelming how my love for them just continues to multiply. It is overwhelming trying to learn to let go little by little. Wanting to hold on tight but knowing this is what is right. What is meant to be. It is overwhelming watching them be brave and independent and strong and kind. It is all just overwhelming.
Dear God in heaven,
please be with my children as they start a new year.
Help them to work hard and do their best.
Keep them safe, happy, and healthy.

Give them a love for learning.
Help them to grow in confidence and independence. 
Show them how to be compassionate.
Let them be a friend to all, kind, and loving.
Let their failures motivate them to try harder.
Let their successes humble them.
Help me, Lord, to be patient, understanding, loving, and wise
in guiding them through this school year.
Be with my children, Lord.
Let your light shine in them and through them
and keep them close to You.


Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson