I watched them carefully. I knew they were fearful. I knew they were full of tension and stress.
They were to leave the house a full hour and a half apart from each other for the first time since they started conventional school. There was a lot of change happening today.
I knew what my job was.
I’ve spent the last few weeks encouraging, teaching optimism, and offering perspective.
But, as with anything in life, they had to face this change on their own.
We waited for Varmint’s bus, and took her yearly “Back to School” picture that would be uploaded onto Facebook for friends and family later. But My Captain and I noticed her smile did not reach her eyes.
So I quietly sat down with her on the old, damp bench and listened to the early morning sounds surrounding us.
“Be the light,” just popped out of my mouth.
“Huh?” she turned to me.
“Be the light. Be the smile that comforts everyone else at school today. Don’t focus on your own feelings; help the other kids who are anxious. You’ll know them because their eyes won’t match their smile.”
She pondered that as we sat in the morning stillness.
Then the bus came and as she got on, she turned to me with a smile that reached her eyes.
An hour and a half later, it was Critter’s turn. Same thing: Picture, smile that didn’t match his eyes.
“Have a seat.” I told him, and marched him over to the old, damp bench.
I started the “Be the light” lecture, but he just crumbled into me.
No lecture was going to help this little boy right now. He’s wasn’t as anxious as he was depressed. Social dynamics are difficult for him at school, and some days it can be long and torturous. And he felt trapped…he knew there was no way out.
All I could do was hold him, as I held back my own maternal tears. I ached for him.
“I love you,” popped out of my mouth.
“I love you, too, Mom,” he whispered, a hitch in his breath.
The bus came. He got up, squared his small, thin shoulders, and bravely got on, without looking back.
Do I think they’ll be fine? Yes.
It’s the waiting that is the hardest part. Sometimes change and challenge are coming, and we know we are helpless to prevent it. We know it’s not on our terms; there is no choice but to meet it. And let me tell you something….
that is when an old, damp bench comes in handy.