No one has ever claimed that raising children is a piece of cake. In fact, anyone with a child knows that is far from the truth. We all have our ups and our downs… Sometimes the ups outweigh the downs, and sometimes they don’t. Reality as I see it is just making it through each day somewhat unscathed is a triumph in itself.
As a mother of two boys I find that my challenges grow with each day that passes. We are stuck in the middle of different stages with our sons. One a third grader almost nine years old, the other on the cusp of becoming a teenager in middle school. Gone are the days of snuggles, kisses, cuddles, and random confessions of undying love for Mom. Ushered in their place is a primal form of communication based on grunts, arm punches, single word answers, smirks, and occasional hugs. This is not to say that my sons have forgone all affection. That is far from the case. What I am saying is that the love that was so freely and frequently displayed when they were younger is changing.
As my older son embarks on the long and turbulent road he must take to discover who he is and what he stands for, our lives and sanity are tested. I remember middle school, and the dichotomy that it presented. The feeling of leaving behind childhood and stepping forward as a young adult, not really knowing what path to take and who is your friend and who is out to get you. It is such a hard age… such a hard time. It is in this struggle of identity that you form the basis of your beliefs. This time forms who you will become. No pressure… right?
Our background is simple. Our children were raised and educated in a private Christian school through 4th/1st grade. After that we transitioned into homeschooling for a year while we relocated. This year (after hours spent in prayer and countless midnight discussions with my husband) is the first time that my children have attended a public school.
My boys have been placed into classrooms with as many as 40 kids for my middle schooler and 30 kids for my third grader. Never in their educational life have my children had to compete for their teachers help or attention, that is until now. I would like to interject right here that the class sizes, and lack of teacher availability is not solely the fault of the teacher. These poor men and women are doing the best they can with the lack of help from our very dysfunctional and broken school system. I commend every man and woman who has chosen to take on this noble profession. Without them to lead the way for our children society as a whole would be lost!
Okay with that being said the reality that exists is different from everything that my sons have ever known. How they cope with this and how we are guiding them through this transition is really what this post is about.
Like I mentioned before my boys have never known the public school system. Up until now they had been blessed to attend a very small school, with very small class sizes. I am not saying that this constitutes a superior education. In fact in some cases this proves to be opposite. What I am talking about is the one on one aspect of learning. A teacher that only has 12 students can and should focus more on the individual student. Helping the student to grow, challenging them to be their personal best. I can not say that every teacher has done this with my boys but I know most have certainly tried. This year my children have been struggling to find their voice amidst the crowd. To seek out help when needed instead of help being given freely without provocation. This year they have learned what it means to be part of the multitude.
What I am finding is that as I have immersed my children into public education certain character traits are emerging some good and some not so good. With my both boys I have found prayer to play a foundational part of building the godly character my husband and I so greatly desire for them to have. Each and every morning as I drive my children to school we pray. We pray for each other, our friends, family, healing the sick, our country and the world. I pray for my sons to receive wisdom, to gain knowledge, and to be leaders and not followers. I pray that they will be bold and courageous. I pray that they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will exhibit the fruit that comes with that: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
Faith in Christ has been the cornerstone in this transition for my family. In the beginning it was acknowledging the fear of the unknown and surrendering it to God. It is the knowledge that each day is a fresh start – a new beginning, which has been pivotal in their success. Sure there are bad days and even bad weeks. There have been times in which complacency has overtaken the drive to succeed and hostile and belligerent attitudes have outdone the will to be patient and kind. We are not perfect nor are we striving for perfection. Through our trials we are strengthened, together and individually. I am grateful for the opportunity to make it through another day by the grace of God! I am humbled by God’s unfailing love and mercy that is extended when we are least deserving. It is by His grace and through His grace that we push forward, continuing on the road less traveled.