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The week has come: school is about to start. Jackson will be going to kindergarten this year…every day! Last summer, because of Jackson’s summer birthday, we decided to wait a year to put him in kindergarten. We were going to have him go to pre-k for a year until he was ready. I think we made the right decision… but I sometimes wonder if it was a decision made in hopes that this year “WE” would be more ready. Or, maybe, to narrow it down further, so that “I”, as the mom, would be more ready. It seems so unsafe to put him out there in the “big world” for 6 hours without any filtering, or help filtering, all that he is experiencing. And that is the truth of what was going on in my mind about school: I was focused on all the fears, the newness, and the ways our “being” is shaped by all those he will be around while at school. Don’t we all do that?

Well, this past weekend, Jackson and I were at the park for his kindergarten meet and greet. We walked up and I could see his face tense up a bit. He saw the challenge ahead…make friends. I think our hearts both sank in that moment. I leaned down to his face and I said, “we are going to have to be brave.” He looked at me with big eyes and a frown on his face. I told him it was hard to be brave, but it was also fun if we choose for it to be. I said “neither of us know anyone here so we are going to have to introduce ourselves in order to make new friends.” I was saying this to him, but also to myself. As he went off to play, I could see him standing on the fringe of the group. A group of four little boys running around from tree to tree. Jackson was trying to blend in without actually directly asking to play or directly being included. It was hard to watch.

The thoughts in my head were going crazy. I was thinking to myself, “introduce yourself so you can feel included, ask them their name so they know you are there, ask them if you can play…oh wait, no, don’t, because then they might say no.” It was agony.

I asked God what to do. How do I help him? And just like that He allowed me to see what was REALLY happening.

I looked up and realized I was on the fringe. Close to other moms and the conversation, but hanging on the outside. Not directly being included, but also not directly asking either. All those fears were my own.

It is so much easier as an adult to stand alone. You can almost get used to it, but it is not what we were created for, and so we will always be left wanting a connection with someone. I was feeling all uncomfortable, looking around at the other moms that were engaged in conversations, and not knowing how to introduce myself. Wondering if they all felt as uncomfortable as me. One mom tried to talk with me and I “pushed her away.” It was all in my mind of course, but I didn’t get too connected to what she was saying. All of the introductory conversation that is simple and light, which keeps me from really connecting to people, also keeps my soul from really feeling loved.

Just then, a lady appeared, or maybe she had been there the whole time, but she started talking to me. I heard the Lord say, “He will be brave when you are.” Suddenly, I could see where I had held Jackson captive with my own projections. Of course he knows when I am uncomfortable and keeping myself on the fringe. Kids spirits’ always know. As I was talking to the lady, I prayed she did not see the tears running down my cheeks behind my sun glasses. I thought she would think I was crazy, that I was the one struggling at the kindergarten playdate. The enemy came quick with the same old lies, “Why do you have to be so deep? It’s just a playdate, can’t you just let go and have fun?” This time I knew what I had to do. I wiped my tears. I asked her about her child that was also going to be going into Kindergarten and I listened. I learned some things about the school and the teachers that I didn’t know before, and that gave me peace. I let go and just had a nice interaction, something I have a hard time doing.

It was then that I looked up and realized Jackson had found a place and was running around with these little boys and having fun! They were chasing each other and playing tag. He ran up to me and said he didn’t want to go. It was so sweet, and I was so happy that he had been so brave.

Some of the biggest things fears I had for Jackson starting school were in fact MY ISSUES. I am still afraid of being left out. I am still not sure how to be me and feel included, even if people are trying to include me. This moment was freeing, as it allowed me to remove the projection from Jackson and truly get excited about his school year ahead and all the fun he will have. It also called me to the responsibility for being brave, as I had told him to be. Put myself out there and meet a mom. I could let her be her with her pink purse and hair all done up, while also letting me be me with no purse, a ponytail and the clothes I slept in.

How many other things do I project on my kids? How many areas do I fear vulnerability? How many ways can I still be BRAVE?

Jackson will have to be brave this new school year and, the truth is, so will I!