As I type this, I’m thinking forward to tomorrow – the first day of the 2017-2018 school year.
We did our practice run in the Zuniga household, as we do every year. After a whole summer of getting to bed late and waking up the next day by noon, sometimes later, Zechariah got in bed by 10 PM last night for a wake up at 7 AM. He’ll actually have to wake up an hour earlier starting tomorrow.
When I went to check on him last night and told him he needed to get to sleep, he said it was still early. I reminded him that he needed to get used to the school schedule. But I so much wanted to let him stay up one more night, his last night of summer vacation.
Morning came very quickly today. I went to wake up my sleeping child. He greeted me with a smile. As planned, I made him his healthy breakfast and let him eat in bed, our day-before-school tradition for the past 3-4 years.
After getting him settled, I sat down for my morning devotion. Then it hit me. Hit me hard.
Zechariah will be starting high school tomorrow.
High School. It sounds so grown up. I got used to his being fourteen. But I’m not ready for my son to become a high schooler. I’m not ready to see him staying up late to finish his homework and stressing over tests and projects. I remember my school years, and I’m not ready to have my son go through the hardships of the rigorous program he will face.
The stress of the last year of middle school broke Zechariah down. It hurt him. And, as a result, it hardened him. The restful, unstructured days of summer brought healing and restoration. But not just to Zechariah. To me. To my relationship with my son.
The struggle Zechariah went through in school was compounded by my desire for him to excel. I pushed him to work harder – to “reach his potential.” I was looking to the future and college. But in looking too far forward, I missed what was going on in the present. I missed the fact that I had placed a heavy burden on my son’s shoulders.
This past summer, Yahweh made a schedule for Zechariah. It involved time with family and friends. Those special people in Zechariah’s life brought back the joy he was missing. And while Yahweh healed Zechariah, He changed me. Yahweh showed me how to encourage and support my son without tearing him down. Yahweh taught me how to SHOW my love to Zechariah – through the words I spoke, through the time I gave, through the willingness to just sit and listen.
These last two weeks of summer have been filled with a peace in our home that we haven’t experienced in a long time. Our family vacation was conflict-free and filled with enjoyment and fun. That’s probably why I’m not ready for summer to end. But end it must.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV).
This school year is another milestone year for the youngest of Mom and Dad’s grandkids. Kristin moved into her first apartment away from home, in Georgetown. Julie is in her senior year at William & Mary. Lindsey starts her senior year at Princess Anne High school. And Zechariah starts ninth grade at Bayside High School.
Perhaps it’s just me, but sometimes I just want time to stand still. Or maybe go back to where the only thing on the children’s minds were what game to play next. But time goes on. And it’s time for a new year to start, filled with new knowledge and new experiences.
Yesterday, Zechariah told me that he was actually looking forward to school. He said he always liked learning. He is ready. He’s ready for school and ready to grow up. I hope I’m ready – to help him grow up.
Tomorrow I release my son into a new world. He has left the burden of middle school behind him and is ready for a fresh start. And he will have the love and re-vamped support from his dad and me.
To my precious Zechariah, my lovely Rodil nieces, and to all my family and friends, I pray over you the promise from Psalm 121:7-8 (NIV):
“Yahweh will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life. Yahweh will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”