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And just like that…

it was time to watch my children finish one grade and launch into the next.  Only this time, my oldest child was going to high school.  The youngest will be finishing elementary school next year.

Last week, my oldest child, my husband and I attended a night of getting to know the life of a high schooler at her soon to be high school.  I had entered the large structure a few times before when our family attended Drama productions which have always been amazing.  This time, there were band members greeting us at the door with their feathered headdress and pressed purple and white uniforms.  They welcomed us.  It felt right.

Soon, my thoughts began to swirl and twirl as we walked from place to place shoulder to shoulder with other families.  We received a sheet describing how we’d move from one room to another hearing from teachers and students.  I took notes like crazy.

The school runs an effective program with safety and rigorous academic standards along with a Lock Out feature in which you will be locked out of your class if you’re not there on time.  I had heard of the Lock Out at another meeting about high school scheduling, but it seemed like it was now for real as I sat in a student’s desk imagining how I would pack my backpack and get out to arrive at my next class within 7-8 minutes.

A student told us that few kids use lockers and just carry around bookbags all day. Chromebooks are provided for students by our district or students can bring their own devices.  Sometimes digital textbooks are accessed instead of having to carry around weights in the bookbag.  All good news.

Cellphones are not to be out during the day or they’ll be confiscated.  They are to be used before or afterschool.  Students have to actually talk to each other in class, in halls and at lunch not sit and text.  Again, way to go high school!  I agree.

Tutoring from teachers starts at 6:50 in the morning but is also provided during times during the day if needed.  Students are dismissed at 2:15.  Currently, my oldest child wakes up at 6:40.  I could just imagine how our night and morning routines would have to change.  We’ll have earlier bedtimes during the next four years.  Her dad will drive her to school most mornings and grandparents will pick her up unless she is there for afterschool activities in which I should be able to pick her up.

I am aware that students can’t all fit in the cafeteria since the school has a large student body.  They will eat on the floor in a large lobby near the cafeteria with their friends.  She wondered about how you’d find your friends in a huge crowd.  Truth is, I wondered also.  She liked the assigned tables in Middle School where everyone knew where to sit.  Now, it will be a free for all.

Teachers encouraged students to get involved in clubs, Drama, Chorus, Band or Athletics to give them a place to connect.  In addition, I thought it was interesting that students will build camaraderie in their homerooms by staying with all of the same students and homeroom teacher for four years.  When they graduate, they will receive their diploma while shaking not only the principal’s hand but their homeroom teacher’s hand as well.  Great idea!  I remembered being in the same high school homeroom with the drama teacher and looking forward to that meeting place during my high school days.

There is no foreign language requirement to graduate in my state but if you’re college bound, you’ll be taking a foreign language.  We’ll be visiting more colleges and checking out their websites to see if they require two or three years of a foreign language.  My child’s foreign language classes will start in 10th grade.  Her schedule is already made for 9th grade.  We’ll see it in a few weeks to allow us to make any changes but hopefully, she will get, as most students do, 90% of their first choices in electives.

I am beginning to realize that one chapter of her life is closing while we are getting a glimpse of what is about to happen.

She is ready.  Truthfully, I am not, at least not totally.  I am trying to be ready.

Come to think of it, I wasn’t ready for her to go to daycare so that I could be a teacher while she was a baby.  There was and still is a mortgage.  Bills had to be paid.  I loved every minute with her even though being a new mom was a huge adjustment mainly because I had no idea what I was doing all while being deprived of sleep. We had amazing family members who have always come alongside of us and helped us with childcare, but ultimately, I had to drop my baby off at the daycare, watch her look at me in disbelief that I was actually leaving and then deal with guilt with every step I took to my van.  Those hot tears streamed down my face as I drove to my school. I was so happy to have a great job, but in reality, I wished that I could have stayed home longer than three months with her.

Shortly after her first daycare experience, we discovered a revered Christian daycare and preschool where she would attend along with her other sibling until they both began Kindergarten.  The workers and teachers did a great job of comforting me as I saw both of my children acclimate and go right in.  They seemed to like the interaction with peers which made it all the more comforting for me.  Then, I remember crying as I dropped off my kids to their Kindergarten class as I walked back to teach my own bunch of third or fourth graders.  Precious Ms. Brantley saw my tears and looked at me with compassion but with assurance and said, “Lisa, she will be fine.  It will be okay.”  And, it was.  Even with a crazy Kindergarten year where she ended up with five different teachers, she was fine.  She has had incredible teachers who have helped her and inspired a love of learning.

Middle School was upon us after K-5 happened and now we’re at the end of Middle School. I know that the high school staff won’t hold her hand nor would I want them to, but what I do want is for her to find her place, her people and develop relationships with teachers who care about her academic and social success.  When she has had teachers who have touched her heart and pushed her in Middle School, she continues to tell me how much she appreciated them.  I hope she gets a teacher like my chorus teacher, Ms. Marta Force, who grew to depend on me to play piano for the practices and caused me to find my place, especially after trying but not liking sports.  I will pray for the teachers who will be the best fit for her and that she will be surrounded by the people who God wants in her life.

It is time to get ready for these last four years of high school.  Before long, I know that we’ll have to get ready to let her go to college.  When change has come for my kids, I have held their hands and told them it would all be okay while having to trust that God would provide everything that they would need.  I could no longer provide for their need while they learned material for themselves.

I love to pack their lunches knowing that this is one small part that I can still do.  I can follow up with them as they do homework and prepare assignments at home.  I think it will be important for me to focus on what I can do as we prepare for the next step.

I can cast my cares on Jesus.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

I can trust in the Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
I can love my kids more than ever before.
I Corinthians 13:4-5 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
I can count on my heavenly Father to provide strength to my kids and to me.  Strength of heart, strength of mind and strength to persevere.
Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  
I am trying so hard, but realize that this is hard.  Hard for me.  Hard for her.  She has had some bumps in the road during Middle School but overall it has been a place where she has grown in many ways.  I have grown to trust her and rely on her to get her work done.  She is ready to move on.
Finally, I have to learn and be happy with my role.  It has been my pleasure and duty to drive our kids to school with my husband’s help on some days.  He had a longer commute so it made sense for me to be the driver.  I have always had the responsibility to drive her to school from back in the daycare days, to when she came to elementary school at my school where I taught, to driving her to Middle School three days a week while my husband drove on two days.  I have also been the one to pick her up most of the time unless family members helped us with picking up when I had meetings or appointments.  My plan is to teach in the next few years, but when I’m home, I will be involved as much as possible by engaging in conversation, going shopping with my kids and spending quality time with them.  I hope to do more marshmallow roasts in our backyard as this time allows us all to just relax.  We should keep our family nights and traditions, but I also want her to find new friends and ways to spend time with them.
I am celebrating that this is her time.  It is not about me.  As a dedicated mom who has juggled a teaching career with motherhood and being a wife, I am looking at the future with possibilities.  I welcome growth.  I can grow as I rely on the Holy Spirit to comfort me and provide for each moment.  After all, she was entrusted to us and will always be held by our Heavenly Father who will never leave us.  Our faith in God has kept us through every stage.
I shared the following video with a friend this week as her son was making his college decision.  She needed peace.  Even though I felt impressed to share the song “What Faith Can Do” by Kutlass with her, the lyrics have ministered to me.  There are so many reasons to say that this new change will be too hard, but I believe that she will be great.  I will need to encourage myself by reading God’s word and praying without ceasing.  God has told us that we don’t have to worry about the future.  I have to trust and He will provide.
Thank you, Ruth Ayres, for providing a celebration place to which I sometimes link my blog post.  I encourage readers of my blog to visit Ruth’s blog and see her story this week of how she learned to take heart and heal through the adoptions of her children and other linked blog posts.

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