We have survived our first week of kindergarten and are cruising into week two! Its been a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. I have somehow found myself room mother for Levi’s class, which just proves the old adage that really and truly, you should never say never…because you most definitely will. For sure. So, I am looking forward to a year full of cupcake baking and PTA meetings…at least if I say that often enough, it might start to ring true for me.
But Levi has been a champ. He has conquered lunchtimes and gym classes and learning the names of new friends, all of which make me give myself a quick pat on the back on, so far, managing to have successfully integrated him into real life. But everyone needs a village and mine happens to be the best. I was reminded of this just this week.
The last fear that Levi had yet to conquer was walking into school without Greg and me. His school allows parents to walk their kids all the way to their classrooms only for the first week of school and then you are expected to drop your child off at the front doors of the school and allow them to navigate the halls to their class. In preparation for this, all last week Greg and I would walk Levi to a different point each day and then ask him to walk the remaining distance to his classroom. This was grueling and heartbreaking work. Our entire walk to school would consist of Levi whining and crying in preparation for wherever we would leave him that day and by the time we actually arrived at our goodbye location, he would be a sobbing mess. It was unpleasant for all involved.
Needless to say, this past week he knew the time had come. He knew that this past Monday we would be forced to leave him all the way at the front. He spent a good deal of his weekend worrying about this fact. I tried every kind of motivation I could think of to spike up his bravery levels (read: I dangled every possible PAW Patrol trinket in front of him) but he was having none of it. Come Monday morning our 10 minute walk to school was filled with despair. I was dreading it. He was dreading it. Greg was dreading having to deal with me on the 10 minute walk home from school. We were all feeling a little dark and gloomy as we approached the entrance to his school.
And then God smiled on us. Out of nowhere comes Levi’s favorite big kid, Atticus. (Yes, our friends are way cooler than yours and give their children epic literary names in an attempt to drop the mic on the child naming game.) Atticus is one of Levi’s heroes. Atticus is fearless. Atticus has broken his arm…twice. Atticus is full of energy. Atticus rides a skateboard and Atticus embodies all of what little Levi hopes to be one day…hopefully minus the broken arms. Atticus comes bounding out of nowhere and just in the same way that I think Jesus saw the sick and broken hearted in crowds of people, Atticus saw Levi and immediately came to his rescue…let’s get real here, he came to my rescue because I was the mom on the verge of heartbreak watching her tiny son being swallowed up by the huge school…
But Atticus stopped. He saw Levi and he said, “Hey, Levi, let’s go to school. I can walk with you.” And he walked him all the way to his classroom. I ended up seeing Levi a few minutes later (because of a room mom assignment I don’t want to talk about) and he was sitting in the hallway in between two sobbing kids waiting for his teacher to open the classroom door. But Levi wasn’t sobbing. Levi was ecstatic…albeit confused as to why so many children were crying around him. Levi had gotten to walk in with Atticus.
This story still brings a tear to my eye for a lot of reasons. One is because I see Jesus in this story so clearly. I see Him in providing a rescuer for us in the form of Atticus. And I see Him in Atticus choosing to take an extra minute to help his scared younger friend. And I see Jesus in my friends, Atticus’ parents, who have managed to instill in their kids a heart to see those who are hurting and need a little help.
But I also get a little emotional because community has been a hard word for me this year. I have felt displaced and disheveled and a little bit of an outsider in so many new places I have walked this year. And Levi starting school has stirred up a lot of hard emotions in me about who I am now and who I want to be and what community I want to cultivate around me. But my son was rescued this week by his community, by our community. Remarkably enough Atticus has 3…soon to be 4…brothers and sisters and not one of them is actually Levi’s age. It would be easy for his family to dismiss ours because our kids will never end up on the same soccer team or third grade class. But they still manage to carve out time for us because they know that a good community is a diverse one. And a good community looks like a family where no one is in the exact same place life wise.
This morning on our way to school Levi asked me if Atticus would walk him in again. And I said maybe. We usually end up arriving at school at around the same time. But I also said, “Maybe you’ll see one of your classmates and you can walk in with them. That could be fun, right?” And he said, “No. I want to walk in with Atticus. Atticus is my big kid friend and he knows what he’s doing.”
I’m so glad we have been able to fill Levi’s life with so many friends older and younger than him, as well as his own age. Because one day, I hope Levi gets to be Jesus to one of his younger friends and show them who Jesus is by walking with them into a scary place. A diverse community is one worth fighting schedules for, don’t you think?