03 October 2014

parenting with stubborn hope


Tuesday afternoon, I got a voice mail message from Walker's principal informing us that the school had been on lock-down for about 30 minutes.  About an hour later, I read an article about a home invasion that left police in pursuit of 4 armed suspects.  A shot had been fired.  Two blocks from the school.  Of course, I was reading all of this after the fact.  2 suspects had been arrested, one swam across the Chattahoochee River (naturally), and the other was at-large.  But not near the school, I guess.  I kinda forgot about it until Walker got off the bus.

I asked him to sit by me on the patio steps out front.  I started with, "how was your day?"  But interrupted him when he began to say, "good" and blurted out "was there a lock-down?"

So he told me about it.  They were at lunch when it happened.  They had to climb under the tables.  At this point I felt myself get that familiar here-come-the-waterworks sensation.  At the same moment, I asked if he was scared.  I recognized the look in his eyes and heard the crack in his voice.  He was about to cry himself.  Thankfully, that small voice in my brain whispered, "be strong and let him tell his story, don't you dare cry."  And I didn't.  And he told his story.  As he told it, I noticed his long lashes, and his little freckles.  I remembered that he is still so little even though he is getting bigger.

For the briefest of moments, I thought about the parents that never got to hear about a safe lock-down.  Instead they met with police officers or investigators or whoever it is that shares the worst news a parent can imagine.  I remembered those kiddos from Newtown that would be Walker's age if there hadn't been a gunmen in their halls.

As we discussed the details of being on red, then yellow, then red again;  I asked Walker if he recited Psalm 23.  He shook his head and told me he wasn't "that scared."  We memorized Psalm 23 after Newtown.

As the night gets quiet, I find myself lingering on the paradox.  The fear in my heart when I hear that he had to crawl under his lunch table.  The relief that I get to hear him tell me that story.  And this, all in a school where there wasn't actually an event.  Just something in the neighborhood.  And I am reminded how desperate we are to protect our children.  How easily I can imagine hiding them away safe from all harm. Knowing deep down, I could never do that.

So much of parenting relies on this stubborn hope.  We believe that God can make good from our efforts, even on our worst days.  We trust that He will give us wisdom to parent well, when we don't have any answers. We hold on tightly to the confidence that He loves our children even more than we do, believing He goes with them.  We believe He holds them close even under cafeteria tables, especially under cafeteria tables.  We parent with hope, every single day.



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