This week big news is coming in the mail. Hayleigh gets her class placement for Kindergarten in the Fall. (If it were completely up to me I would still be pursuing securing a cabin in the remote woods and raising truant Hobbit children. But, alas, Peter has some say in how our children our raised and for some reason he insists on electricity, access to Wegmans within 5 minutes from our house, and children who are literate and law abiding students. Helicopter dad, much? Geez.)
I had this teacher for 2nd grade at the same school, 20 some-odd years ago. If I am trying to say this in the most mature and tactful way possible I would say she does not have the most friendly disposition with the children and can be a bit harsh. If I am saying it in the most honest way possible-or at least the way I remember feeling all those years ago and felt again meeting her at Hayleigh’s Kindergarten open house and again at her screening, I would say: She is a big meany who can’t stand children and gives sensitive children emotional scars (that may or may not last 20 some-odd years and be re-opened upon learning that said teacher may be with your child 7.5 hours per day 5 days a week) and she has no business teaching anymore; she should just retire. Yeah, I would say something like that in run-on sentence form.
After lots of prayer, seeking advice from people I respect, and giving myself some not-so-fun-but-oh-so-true doses of my parenting ideals I decided not to make the call. I decided to wait it out and see if the 80% chance Hayleigh had of not getting Mrs. Yell-a-lot would be in our favor. You see I want a number of things for my kids. Some of those things I want more than others. I want them to be happy. But more than happy I want them to be holy. Let me explain. I don’t expect my kids to be perfect. Clearly that is impossible. But I want them to become more and more like Jesus as they go through life. I want the same thing for myself. So, when it comes to choosing Hayleigh’s happiness verses her holiness, I am choosing (we-Peter and I are choosing) her holiness. The two aren’t always opposed. But I have experienced so much more growth through challenges and suffering in my life, than when things were easy and fun. I have learned more about myself, about others, and about God when things are difficult. I am a better person because of it. A huge part of my world-view involves being thankful for the Grace God gives us in suffering and challenge-how He uses suffering and challenge to give us what we don’t deserve: being near to Him and becoming more like Him. So, if I am truly grateful for those opportunities in my life, why would I keep my children from growing through challenge? Sometimes I really hate it when the “rubber” of my ideals meets the proverbial road.
So, I didn’t call and request Hayleigh not to have that teacher. Instead I have been faithfully (perhaps obsessively) praying a prayer that a wise friend shared with me after being in a similar situation. I am praying that God would give Hayleigh the teacher He knows will make her into the person He wants her to be. Sometimes it is hard to believe but God knows and loves Hayleigh more than I do. I like to think that I always know what is best for her. I pride myself in knowing the intricacies of my kids, what makes them tick. I get very comfortable calling her mine. But in reality she belongs to God. We all do. The truth of it all, the truth that really is more of a comfort than anything else, is that Hayleigh is not my girl. She is God’s girl on loan to me. The other magnificent truth is that God knows what is best for Hayleigh and not only that, but He has promised to bring it about.
Since I believe those things, I decided to put into practice those things. I decided to start of Hayleigh’s school career making it more about her holiness than her happiness (although I have also been praying plenty of “please, oh please, don’t let her teacher be Mrs. Big Meany Pants” prayers). I really want my kids to know that their parents care more about their hearts than anything else. I want them to know from the get-go that we expect them to do what’s right even when it is hard, that challenge is God’s best method for growing us, and God gives challenges to those He loves. I want them to know that while we are their biggest advocates that does not mean we will try to take those challenges away from them. In fact, being their biggest advocates means the opposite to us. It means we will welcome those challenges in their lives while they still live under our roof, and we are still able to help them sort it all out in a Biblical way. We will not fight against people who present challenges to our kids, but instead we will use it as an opportunity for growth-for us all. I want my kids to know that we are on their team, that we are a safe haven for them, and they were are there to coach them through the difficult things that come up in life. I want to equip them now to handle bigger challenges later in life, so that they don’t grow up, move out and be in for the surprise of their life when things aren’t handed to them. I don’t want them to be surprised by suffering. God tells us not to be surprised by it. He tells us to expect it. So, I figure my kids better know how to handle it.I know this might sound kind of harsh. And part of me really ( like really) wants to step in and give Hayleigh my choice of a teacher for her. (Or, find a cabin with electricity, have Wegmans groceries air-lifted in and hire a private tutor.) But, I know that would not be the most loving thing to do for Hayleigh. And while she is on loan to me, I want to love her right. I blow it every single day. I really am a big screw up in a lot of ways. Which is why I am thankful for Grace-the grace that comes in times of challenge and suffering, the grace that is bigger than all my sins and blind-spots, the grace that covers all God’s children-including my sweet Hayleigh Girl.
So, the letter comes this week. I am not sure what it will say. But God does. And it is right, even if I don’t like it. Here goes living based on those darn ideals.