This morning, I had the chance to send my sweet boy off on the school bus. Usually this is John's job in our hectic morning division of labor, but he left early to go hunting. I was a little daunted by the task of getting two kids ready for school by myself, then trudging out into the frigid morning to wait at the bus stop, but it ended up being a poignant start to the day. Shuffling through the fallen leaves, across "Brady's bridge" that John and his dad built over our creek in the side yard, I delighted in the sound of smaller, faster steps behind mine. Bundled in my coat over pajamas, I marvelled at how this boy was excited and ready to go out into the world and tackle this new day. At the bus stop, he greeted a neighbor (who I didn't know) by name, and I saw the boy soften from his toughened older elementary posture, grin, and say, "Hey, buddy." The two had a conversation, and I was just struck by how confident and outgoing our once silent and withdrawn boy has become. When the bus arrived, he grabbed my leg and hugged hard, said "I'll miss you, Mommy," then ran off past the other waiting and more reluctant boys to get his place in the front of the line to climb onto the bus. Then off he went into the wide wide world, ready for an adventure.
I, on the other hand, paused for a moment, stilled by the weight of the moment, the beginning of our separation, and the reality of his independent life at school. Although this process has been happening for months (years, really), I can forget about it in the busyness my normal routine, and assume that all is well. And I know that all is (likely) well. He loves school and is thriving. He is quite a follower, which has worried us, but makes him an excellent follower of rules, routines, and teacher expectations. Yesterday, however, he came home on "orange" for the first time, which meant that due to multiple behavioral reprimands, he had to miss part of playtime. While John and I disagreed with the severity of the punishment, Brady seemed to handle it well. The funny thing is that he got in trouble for yelling at other students to be quiet in the cafeteria lunch line...because the teachers were doing it, and he was trying to help. We have the same issue at home with him trying to help us discipline his sister. Sometimes his "helpfulness" is not always desired. Another of his infractions yesterday was yelling "pick me!" at circle time instead of raising his hand. Although he knows the rules, I have to smile at his excitement. It's ironic to me as well that he is so focused on behaving well at school when it is often such a struggle at home!
But really, I don't worry about behavioral issues. I worry about him losing his spark, his interest, his individuality. I worry about him learning that he is different and deciding that is not okay. I worry about whom he will follow and where they will lead him. I worry about the day when he's not as eager to run to the school bus...and also about the day when he dreams of running away from us, his family.
But I thank God for the gift of him, the grace to watch him grow into the person God created him to be. I thank God for the awesome and humbling responsibility to lead him in good directions and try to instill all our values and teachings of faith and love in the small time we have an influence. I thank God for hugs and words of love and for all the love that follows him on his journey away from us.
And I thank God for Brady's own growing sense of self: