Jay has never returned to the same school, with the same kids. Never. He has four years under his belt and has never experienced returning. He doesn’t know whether his friends will be there next year. He doesn’t know if he will be there next year.
It’s not a stretch for the imagination to realize that the end of a school year might kick up some hard emotions if all previous life experience tells you that you start over again in August. Not just a new teacher, but a new school and new rules and new friends.. He doesn’t believe us that his friends will still be his friends in August.
It would be a grave oversight to assume that these thoughts don’t trigger concern about whether our family will withstand the summer. Forever, he may think, could be coming to an end.
He volleys between fear and love, love and fear, fear and love. Eventually the emotions leak out. It’s not pretty.
We left the get-together early tonight. He clamped his fingers on the front porch railing, refusing to leave. Andy carried him to the car, saying “Buddy, let's not make this into something bigger than it is,” and hugging him tight.
On the way home, I asked, “Do you want to shower or just get ready for bed?”
He was silent.
When we pulled into the lane, I asked again, “Do you want to shower or just get ready for bed?”
“I don’t know,” he said and I was happy he broke his silence.
“I was thinking when you’re ready for bed, you can have a Norwegian kit-kat that Karianne brought for us.”
“I can?” I hear the doubt in his voice.
“We left before dessert, so I thought you might want some chocolate instead.”
“Really? I mean, you’re not mad at me?”
We are walking up the front sidewalk and I smell the irises. They remind me to slow down. “No, I’m not mad. It’s super late, way past bedtime, and you’ve been fighting a cold. I could tell you were ready to come home because I know you don’t like to get angry in front of people.”
I’m unlocking the front door and he leans into me, wraps his arms around my middle, and says, “I can use a hug.”
I hug him tight and know this is a breakthrough.
“Thanks, Mom,” he says, “I needed to come home.”
Inside, he gets ready for bed and I set the kit-kat pieces on a napkin, then fill his water glass. He sits at the kitchen counter, takes a bite, and smiles.
“You know, Jay, I’m not sure what else I could have done to get you out of there without you losing your temper. Do you have any ideas?”
He shrugs and takes another bite. “Maybe I could tell you when I think I should go home.”
I smile this time. It is turning into a night of breakthroughs “That’s a good idea. Can you tell when you need to leave?”
He nods. “I can tell you care about me. Thanks for coming home. I like your friends.”
“Me too, Buddy, me too.”
“Will they be mad that you left?”
“Nope, not at all.”
He lifts his eyebrow and finishes his chocolate. “They’s must be good friends,” he says jumping off of the bar stool and hugging me again.
“Sure are,” I whisper as he bounds up the stairs to brush his teeth.
Sure are. They are friends that I didn’t even know I needed. They are friends I didn’t think I had time for. Turns out I was wrong. It’s one more example of when God knew much better than me when He asked me to find a bible study group.
I have such a limited human perspective. All I wanted were a couple women to study scripture and pray together. None of this hanging out and having dinner together. None of this talking on the phone stuff. It turns out that when God asks us to do something, He always has something bigger and better in mind. Maybe someday I’ll quit putting God in a box and simply accept His sovereignty.
Until then, I’m just going to be thankful each time He grows bigger before my eyes. I guess it was a night of breakthroughs for both Jay and his momma.