Okay, so Tom's home--all is well with that, AND we survived the "First Week of School." If you want the spiritual version of this, go to my website and check out my devotion at www.prayalltheway.com
But, for the "real" scoop, you're in the right place.
Day 1 was great. Mikel and Kaleigh came home excited about their classes, seeing friends again and basically getting back into the groove of things. Kaleigh hosted a "back to school" pool party and TJ hardly noticed he was in class (isn't school about the friends???).
Day 2-pretty good as well. Kaleigh and her friends had yet to realize school had begun, and once again they were in my pool. Mikel was invited to eat outside with the seniors at lunch and after school she and TJ went shopping. The evening was spent organizing notebooks, relocating calculators and talking about the teachers.
Day 3--not so good. Kaleigh and her friends started pulling together their summer homework (but still found time to be by my pool); TJ realized classes had actually begun; and Mikel couldn't find anyone to sit with at lunch.
Day 4--good and bad. Kaleigh and friends--oh yes they were still in my backyard now picking apples (the pool was getting old). TJ--totally in his element. And Mikel begged off suffering from allergies she took her first sick day.
Day 5--the best of times and the worst of times. TJ-he's fine! Kaleigh--I'm thinking we STILL had friends over after school! But, Mikel...text I received at 10:40AM--"Mom, can I please go to another school? I'm miserable here."
What's a mom to do when she gets a message like that? High School's supposed to be fun. By the time you're in the 11th grade you should be running with your friends, ruling the hallways and juggling parties. But Mikel's friends were scattered out, and hardly any of them in her lunch period (those 20 minutes can make or break your day. I thank God for her friend Kaitlyn who ate with her when they found one another Wednesday), and she was one of about 35 in her classes, had already had to change her schedule because they'd given her two study halls--and she told me the "schedule changer" was in a terrible bad mood...it's tough.
Mikel has several good friends who attend Zion Christian Academy. It's a small Christian college preparatory school about 30 miles from us. For the past two years Mikel's begged to go there. But with our schedules 3 hours on the road daily (to take and pick her up) was out of the question. So, we never entertained the thought. However, Mikel's driving now. Last year she attended many of Zion's sports events, and this summer she visited back and forth often. So when she asked to change schools I had no doubt where she wanted to go.
However, another school invites another entire community into our lives. And we already share many communities in our home. There's Thompson Station Church (which is really several communities in one--the youth group for the kids, women's ministry for me and all of it for Tom); then we have Tom serving the TN Baptist Convention as president this year, Mikel playing travel softball, TJ playing basketball, Kaleigh PLAYING, and me traveling most weekends to the far corners of the world speaking. Then...we have Independence High School and Heritage Middle School. There's quite enough juggling going on already!
But here's the deal. I'm learning that as my children grow up--my parenting shifts a bit. When they were young, they were an extension of Tom and me. I chose who they played with, where they went--even what they were involved in. But as they grow, they start choosing some of those things for themselves. And thus, we find ourselves now carefully meandering through five individual lives that come together for support--mostly financial and maybe a little emotional, eating and sleeping. As I study my individuals (and wonder at the way God is growing them), I reluctantly realize that they (not me) will determine the course of their lives! So, the tricky part is knowing when to expand the boundaries and when to draw them in. With teenagers it's an ebb and flow kind of thing.
Tom and I listened to Mikel's pain. I took her shopping when she got home from school Friday afternoon so I could spend time with her and hear her hurt. We didn't find much to buy, but I did give validity to her by hearing her out. When Tom got home I tried my best to translate what was going on (remember, he was fresh off the boat!). Our hearts broke over what she was experiencing and we prayed. Sunday at church we prayed--I LOVE HOW WE CAN PRAY IN THE SETTING OF OUR WORSHIP SERVICES!! God meets us there in powerful ways!
Then Tom suggested that we go to Zion and talk with the headmaster. So, on Monday we went--just the two of us, praying as we drove down and asking God to give us total peace if we should let Mikel enroll. He gave us peace! Tuesday she "shadowed" one of her friends so that she could see how different Zion would be from IHS, then today she enrolled.
Is this going to be easy? NO!
Do I like her driving 40 minutes one way to school each morning and returning those same miles home in the afternoon? NO!
Would it be easier for her to stay where she was? YES!
Is public school fine for my kids? YES!
Do we love Mikel and want the very best for her? YES.
And we have determined that this just might be it for her. No more arguing with us over spending time with her friends down there to the detriment of developing better friends here. No more juggling her time between school, church and her "Zion connection." Now, she simply has two worlds--school and church! It's a little larger perimeter we've allowed her. A little more "letting go" in preparation for the life she'll be facing a few years from now. And I'm thinking a little more of God's plan unfolding for her.
I am incredibly blessed to be Tom's wife (and Mikel is even more blessed to be his daughter!). Tom's normal response to all this would have been, "Mikel, you just need to get with the program!" And, in time she would have--but this time, through his leadership he said, "maybe Mikel's program is different than what I thought." What a powerful lesson for us as parents to learn!
I hope your first week of school was all that God had in mind for you too!
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