Thursday, September 5, 2013

Preschool Eve

Dear Lila,
You start preschool tomorrow.  "The beginning of the end," I told your Daddy.  You'll never not be in school until you graduate from college.  (If people are still going to college when you are 18 - who knows what the world will be like then!)

What do I want for your schooling future?  I want you to learn, yes of course.  But you are such an eager learner I have no doubt that you will do well in school.  I want you to make friends and keep them.  I want you to learn that there are multiple people of authority in your life and they all (well, most of them) deserve your respect.  I want you to be well-rounded, exposed to things I cannot give you and to come back to me to talk about them.  I want you to be aware that there is a big, great world out there full of beautiful people and I want you to remember that Jesus loves each one of the people in this world.

I want these things for you, and I want for you to be something to your schooling community.  Your life has the ability to impact both the children and adults in your educational world.  I know this because I am a former student and a current teacher.  I can list the pals I made at a young age who are still among my dearest friends, as well as the students who shaped me - especially through their innocence or creativity or brilliance or hardship.  Your life, even as a small child at the beginning of your journey as a student, can have a great impact.  What do I want that impact to be?

I want you to surprise your teachers with your creativity and talent.  I want them to be challenged by your perspective and experience.  I want them to love you and be touched by your marvelous little life (I might be a little biased).  And for your classmates, I want them to feel your fierce love and acceptance.  You are a natural and low-maintenance friend.  Your friendship philosophy is delightfully uncomplicated - be willing to play and you're in!

I tried to get you to think about your classmates who might need to borrow your confidence, who might be eternally grateful for your invitation and acceptance.

I told you, "Think about who might need a friend and invite them to play."
You said, quizzically, "Do I know their name?"
"Yes, you'll know their name."
You shrugged and said simply, "Then they're already my friend."  Then you ran off to play with your princesses.

I laughed at myself for trying to get your three-year-old mind to think so abstractly, and at your quick and literal reply.  After all, what other qualifier do you need other than knowing someone's name for them to become your friend?  (That's one thing you share with our Facebook generation.  Not that I know much about that.)

I shouldn't worry so much about it.  I trust in your natural sociability to be a good friend and I believe that your sisterhood with Faith will shape your perspective in relationships.  I just don't want to miss an opportunity.  I don't want to take your young life for granted.  You don't have to be a grown-up to be relevant.  You can teach the world something about the way that Jesus loves us and I want you to start tomorrow.

You are beautiful and confident and I hope you stay that way.  I hope you are protected from cruel words and hurt feelings though I know you won't be.  Even more, I hope you are never the one who utters the cruelty.  Though I know you might be.  I just hope you won't be.  So I'm going to do my darndest to instill in you an affection and defensiveness for those who might need a sweet and fierce friend like you.  I'm going to whisper in your ear that you are awesome and loved and that you have lots of love to pass around to people who might really need it.

And I'm going to stand over you at night after I've tucked you in (after I've survived an exhaustion-fueled temper tantrum) and cry over how much I love you.  I'm going to pray for your heart and for Jesus to capture it wildly and fully.

A funny thing, whenever I pray for you as you are falling asleep, I get this image in my mind of the bow of a ship.  I see the part of the ship that is cutting through the water, doing the legwork to reduce the resistance for the rest of the ship.  It is sharp and purposeful.  It serves the ship by taking a beating to make travel easier.  I don't know much about boats or ships, but that is significant to me.  I wonder if one day it will be significant to you?  It might just be my imagination, but the image has weight for me.  I wonder if one day you will lay down your life for the good of another or the good of a cause worth fighting for and I will be forcibly reminded of that image prayed over your three-year-old self.  I would not be surprised.  Your life will have a great impact.  And tomorrow, there is new ground to be taken.  Preschool.  You'll be great.

I love how you were using your feet to hold the book like a little monkey.

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