My oldest will walk the hallways of high school in a few shorts weeks. How in the world did we get here so quickly?
It feels like yesterday he entered Kindergarten. Cliche to say, but true beyond measure.
August 2009. The Southern California sun beat down on the school as we walked to my son’s Kindergarten classroom. His blue backpack hung nearly to the backs of his knees, his striped polo shirt and clean cut spiked hair were my view as he waited his turn to meet his teacher. Knowing nobody, I wondered who his friends would be and how the year would pan out.
He entered the classroom, greeted by the warmest, most incredible teacher, and never looked back. A new adventure awaited, and he was ready.
The door clanked closed, and I stood on the outside.
A tear fell down my cheek. And then another. And another.
It’s hard to let go.
This is the first of many, I told myself as we walked away with his little sister clinging to me like a koala.
At the end of that school year, I bought the Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! The best $9.99 I’ve ever spent.
I took it to his teacher, told her I’d be giving this book to him on the day of his high school graduation, and asked her to sign a note to him from that perspective. It honestly felt silly, but my desire was to collect notes and remembrances along the journey from significant people who shaped his character.
Year after year, teacher after teacher, coach after coach, mentor after mentor have graciously signed this book, and he has no idea (Side note: Shh! If you see him, please don’t tell, and he’s not on social media yet so I’m currently semi-safe to post this.).
Little did I know a significant person who wrote a heartfelt message would suddenly pass away. Little did I know we’d be moving to Oregon halfway through his 4th grade year.
And little did I know the joy of these handwritten words for my parenting heart.
From one teacher: “… Though time has passed, I would still offer this one thought. It is only what you do with these gifts and talents that matters. I look forward to hearing how you have made God’s world a better place. And how you have become a man of character above all.”
And another: “I absolutely will always remember how you approach everything in life with respect and integrity … I insist you keep in touch.”
Pursuing positive outside voices, praying for our children, and investing in their character far outweighs any award, game winning heroic, or accolade.
We can’t do this parenting gig on our own. Forming the minds and hearts of the next generation is truly the most difficult and important job, in my opinion, there is. The ROI is limited in the early years (and sometimes in the latter too) as you pour into nurturing and raising little ones who are amazingly good at tantrums, selfishness and massive messes. But when we make a habit of pressing into the hard, inviting others into our children’s lives, and consistently loving without limits, we begin to see shining glimmers of who our children are becoming.
As we knock at high school’s door, another letting go happens. Now it seems crazy there’s only four more years left.
I open his book and read the scribbled notes. My heart fills. My hope increases. My gratitude intensifies. My joy resolves.
Who knew this book would be a gift for my heart?! If I could give any advice to parents with little ones or older ones since it’s never too late to start, it would be to spend $9.99 and start collecting priceless words. You never know when YOU’LL need these words. On a day when this parenting gig drives you to your knees, open it up and read. And if you’re like me, a tear of sentiment and hope will fall onto the sacred pages of a book written long ago by Dr. Seuss.