Early every morning, way before the sun comes up, I journal. I write about the day before, the day to come and my feelings. I read a few devotionals and scriptures and try to listen to what God is whispering. I end with a prayer and simply list all of those on my heart. I start with my family members. Today I realized almost all of them are immersed right now in going back to school. My husband and two oldest children and daughter-in-to-be all work in school districts. Our youngest son is a college student. Even my tiny grandsons started at a new United Methodist church preschool last week. I just finished one of my bigger annual projects, a Back to School Fair for children in need in our community. It was a joy to watch 1500 students pick out backpacks, receive school supplies and other community and district resources.
Even though the weather here is well over 100 degrees each day, summer is over and learning, athletic practices and the routine of the school days will begin again.
At our grandsons’ new preschool they have an app called Watch Me Grow where parents and grandparents can look in via smart phone at any part of the school day and see what the little ones are doing. I now would like to announce that I will never again do anything productive while my precious grandsons are in school. I will be watching every move they make just because I can. My daughter can’t easily tune in when she is working. She is a Speech Pathologist and has to focus on her students, so I am the self-appointed watchdog and reporter to her of all she needs to know. I’ve been telling her helpful things like They are eating Vanilla Wafers. They are both napping now. Pace made a friend. Keller is doing an art project. I’ve been screening out what she doesn’t need to hear about such as, Your youngest has been sobbing for 30 minutes. I feel like God or Jesus or both watching with love from above, wishing and wanting all to go well for them. My heart breaks when they struggle. I long to jump in and intervene, yet just have to allow them to learn how to deal with life and others. I have told them both, Mimosa’s watching while you are at school. I’m so proud of you.
I’ve yet to decide if it is good or bad to have a loving grandmother hovering virtually over a preschool five hours away, but it is what it is. This crazy app works wherever I go, so I can watch from the grocery store, the stop lights, meetings… anywhere. Again, did I mention that I will never again do anything productive?
My heart is with all those going to school for the first time… and those returning to more familiar school settings. I offer this blessing in this back to school season:
God, we enter the season of back to school. ready or not.
Be with each administrator, each school support staff member, each teacher, aide and student.
Open hearts and minds for learning and connecting.
Be with those who are struggling with new routines, anxieties and expectations.
Guide each one to a friend they can lean on. A friend makes everything better.
Remind each school bus driver, coach, cafeteria worker, facilities worker and teacher that their smile, their smallest words or actions can make a lasting impact on someone else.
Help everyone when the going gets rough, patience wears thin or when new routines get old.
Some way, some how, keep our schools safe, God. We all feel vulnerable right now.
Add in, please, the gifts that make life sweeter, a Vanilla Wafer shared, a Batman backpack, a fresh start, a small kindness.
Guard and guide us God, watch over us like a grandmother with a new app on her phone. Amen.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and Pace and breast cancer survivor.