First Day of Kindergarten - 2013
Today I noticed parents and children walking to the elementary school near my work. There was a mother with a baby on the back of her bike, leading her bike-riding sons across streets and along sidewalks like a mama duck in Make Way for Ducklings.
There was the father holding his too-young-for-school daughter's hand as they walked beside the older brother shifting the weight of his backpack from side to side. What really made them noticeable was the green-polka dotted raincoat and cowboy boots the girl had on. Oh to be young again and be able to dress in polka dots.
And there were mothers of older children, who could probably walk the block to school and cross the street with no one watching, but they tagged along anyway. I choose to believe they wanted to share those last moments with their kids who will soon be to old to be seen with their mother; they wanted to watch and wave goodbye because they weren't quite ready to let go. I choose to believe the parent's proximity had nothing to do with the need to protect their precious babies from perverts, kidnappers or threatening, gun-wielding, killers ravaged by mental illness.
I choose to believe the world is a safe place for children.
To that end I have decided I'm going to stop listening to news reports. Instead of the sounds of 911 callers' frantic cries for help, my ears will listen for laughter coming from the playground. Instead of the sound of gunfire, I will await the crack of a bat hitting a home run. Instead of my own children complaining about too much homework, I'll nod at the other moms I see waiting at bus stops for their children to tell them about their day, knowing their hearts have begun to beat in a more normal rhythm as they hold little hands safely in their own.
Oh God, Divine Teacher, Loving Parent,
I pray that you send angels to watch over the students, teachers, principals, bus drivers, crossing guards, coaches, school nurses, secretaries, volunteers, PTA mothers and fathers, and janitors who have begun a new school year. Open their minds to the wonder of new ideas and concepts. Give them tenacity to overcome the challenge of lessons that don't come easily. Fill their days with joyful determination instead of worry about what bullies might say or do. Provide them with food to nourish their bodies, music and art to nourish their souls, and praise to nourish their spirits. At the end of a long day, give strength to the harried moms and dads who have dinner to make and homework to check. Remind them to turn off the TV/computer/phone, to find the time to ask, "how was your day?" then listen to the answer. And, Lord, when young and old lay down to sleep, fill their dreams with the glorious possibilities of a new tomorrow. May it be so.
Remember to stop for school busses,