This afternoon our school had their annual thanksgiving service. I say our school because it was the same one that I went to from transition right through to graduating in year twelve.
Every year since as long as I can remember, the school has celebrated the end of the year with a thanksgiving service; a chance to reflect on the year that was, and celebrate the achievements of staff and students alike. This year was no different, and I enjoyed it just as much as I did when I was a student.
I probably wasn’t in the best frame of mind going in (read Sunday’s blog to know why), but I didn’t realise it at the time. It wasn’t until the year twelves were invited to the stage to get their certificates, that the nostalgia set in big time.
It’s been eleven years since it was me on that stage. A young, excitable and intelligent student, who honestly believed the world was her oyster and she could do anything. Looking at those kids there today, I envied them. I wish I had their enthusiasm and excitement for the coming roads. I wished I wasn’t so tired; wasn’t so jaded.
Eleven years it’s been, and it feels like about two.
And before you know it, we will be back there again and it will be Taylah graduating. Then Bridie, Bailey and Ava. One by one they will walk onto that stage in their formal wear,and accept their certificates. Some of them may get academics achievement awards. Hopefully all of them will be commended for the attitude to service, and their work ethic. They may be class clowns or class captains; they may be in the dance group or musicians. They may just be one of the quiet ones, content to let others take the stage.
But like it or not, the time is coming, and it will soon be here.
Which means I need to plan now.
Last week I spoke about intentional parenting; about having a plan, and using the moments of our day to teach our children moral attitudes.
But our plan needs to be more than just getting through the day tantrum free; it needs to be big picture parenting. We need to think about what we want for our kids, the kind of people we want them to be, when they leave school, and walk out into the world.
I was speaking to my step sister a while ago, and she was saying that at her daughters kinder in Melbourne, a lot of the parents were keeping their children back, so that they would be eighteen when they finished school, and legally allowed to drink at schoolies.
Now to be perfectly honest, that horrified me a little, to think that parents could look at their three and four year olds and make educational decisions based purely on making sure they could legally get drunk and probably make some very poor, and possibly life changing decisions, because of it.
But I realise that I am the minority, and to each his own, but that is a great example of big picture parenting. It’s looking at what you want for your young adult, and setting things in place now, to help them get there.
Now to be fair, it doesn’t require a great amount of preparation and training to raise a child who will drink themselves into oblivion with their mates, at every given opportunity,(which I think most of us know first hand!) but if, by chance, you want a child that doesn’t, or that can say please and Thankyou or excuse me without being prompted, then that doesn’t accidentally happen.
The other day I bumped into one of the young guys from church at Coles. I was just about to put my shopping in the boot when I saw him, and he and his work colleague came over and unpacked my trolley, and then returned it for me. That kind of chivalry is not coincidental; that comes from parents who have taught him a genuine care and respect and servant attitude towards others.
I realise that this post is different from what I said I was going to write today, but after being at the Thanksgiving Service today, this was the post that needed writing. While I watched those young people take the stage, and I looked at my own life, lamenting over my lack of direction and apparent non success, I felt quite down and miserable. That there was no room in the world for me anymore; that it belonged to these people. With their fire and their passion and their energy. There may only be eleven years difference, but I feel like an old lady; tired, beat down, and ready to give up.
But if the future is those year twelve students, then the future is my own children too. And I have the responsibility of training them, and guiding them, and helping determine what the future looks like. Right now, my present, is consumed with leading them, so that who they are can change the world, even if I never do.
I’m not in Kansas anymore; it’s not easy and peachy and full of hope and puppies and ice-cream. But I can help the lion find his courage, the scarecrow use his brain, and the tin man act from his heart. I can give them the tools to use their strengths, so that the Emerald City becomes the place they call home.
I can choose to make my parenting intentional, my picture big, and my heart hopeful instead of despondent.
I can choose to make my present as important as the future.