My children started school yesterday. Our youngest son Jordan started Kindergarten, so all our children are attending Westminster during the day now. Can you guess who was in charge of buying their shoes this year?
As my wife walked Jordan to his class, she found herself tearing up. I made fun of her for this since our kids go to the school that our church runs, it's hardly sending them off to the unknown. Further, our children have been alive long enough to watch the church and school develop and are very familiar with the classrooms, halls, cafeteria, and all the places that would normally cause a new student anxiety. Jordan's teacher is one of our elders wives who also taught my other two boys when they were in kindergarten. Jordan very confidently entered the classroom and met up with his buddies from church and pre-school and also made a few new friends right off the bat. So again, I made fun of my wife for getting weepy over the start of this new epoch in Jordan's life.
I've been thinking today about why parents cry over such transitions. As it relates to Jordan, we're talking 3 hours of "formal" class time each day away from the home, at a place he knows very well. What gives?
I think we cry over such transitions because they mark the advance of time that cannot be stopped. We feel a bit out of control concerning the inevitable passage of time. Time spent cannot be retrieved. Our children will continue to grow and become less and less dependant on us. I think we cry because they need us less as they mature. I think we cry because we're happy they have come to a new milestone. I think we cry because yesterday is never the same as today when we are living and parenting. We can't have back what once was and we really aren't sure what comes next. Shari even told me of one mother who has older boys (the youngest is in 7th grade) crying as she watched the kindergarten students entering their class. Why was she crying? Because she remembers when her youngest went to kindergarten and simultaneously sensed how fast the years have gone by.
This morning I drove the boys in to school myself. I pulled around the circle drop-off and they all piled out to go to their classes. I rolled down the window and shouted to AJ (my oldest) to make sure Jordan got to his class alright before he went to his room. Just as I was giving this direction to him, Jordan interrupted and said "no daddy, I don't need help, I know where I'm going" and he walked off on his own.
I felt something...I confess a tear was coming, but I shook my head real fast to head off such a weak display, rolled up the window, and drove off and up to my office.
Isaac Watts was right- time is like an ever-rolling stream.