Sometimes I have viewed the timing of Kindergarten as a pain in the butt. I can’t really get anything done in the morning before they go or in the afternoon before they get home. I can’t make all day plans and it can be hard to get momentum with so many stops and starts to my day.
But this year I have seen Kindergarten differently. Maybe it’s because Locke is my last child. Maybe it’s because he is my first child to take the bus. Maybe it’s because I am older and wiser. Whatever the reason, this year, I am seeing Kindergarten’s timing as a blessing.
Every day around noon, I am forced to stop whatever I am doing –go outside– and walk to the bus stop.
In the past seven months, I have only driven him to the bus stop three times. Once was in a downpour, once was in a windstorm, and the last one was two weeks ago when (to quote a friend) “mother nature was drunk.” She was snowing, hailing, sleeting, raining, thundering and lightening all at the same time. Other than that I have made a point to brave the weather and get outside every day even in the bitter cold.
I get to hold my son’s hand and walk slowly to the bus stop. We are usually 10 minutes early because Locke is so time obsessed, but those extra 10 minutes are special. He takes his time. He kicks rocks and snow. He walks an unpredictable path (not just on the sidewalk.) We notice leaves and flowers and bees humming and clouds in the sky and snow crystals. I don’t bring my phone, and I turn my face to the sun.
In the Fall, I played catch with my older son while Locke played with rocks, grass, his scooter or his buddy.
In the Winter, I bundled up and watched Locke kick and eat snow, throw snowballs, and climb snow hills. I let the sun reflect off the snow and blind my eyes.
Yesterday I laid flat on my back on the grass park strip and just looked at the sun. I let my Vitamin D deprived body soak in all the rays. I gave gratitude for the coming of Spring.
Kindergarten has been a blessing for me this year because it has forced me to slow down. It has forced me to press the pause button on my to-do lists. And it’s gotten me outside every day.
Last Sunday my friend was hobbling down the church halls with crutches after ACL surgery. We commiserated, but we also remembered how nice it is to have two functioning legs and a body to do what we want it to do. Near the end of our conversation I mumbled, “Anything that forces us to slow down is a blessing, right?” I didn’t say it clearly because I was just forming my hypothesis.
But the more I think about it, the more I believe that anything that forces us to slow down and pause is a blessing. Anything that interrupts the mindless flow of the day or habitual routines can be seen as a chance to notice and appreciate more of life.
For example, sick kids are a blessing. I used to get so frustrated that plans had to change and we all had to slow down, but now when a kid gets sick I see it as God’s permission to stay home, cancel appointments, watch movies, bail out of responsibilities where possible, lower expectations and snuggle. And if mom or dad gets sick, He is saying the same thing to us: slow down, take better care of yourself, and rest.
Rain and snow storms are slow-down blessings too. Baseball games get cancelled. Roads get closed. Dad doesn’t have to drive in to work. The weather is giving us permission to hunker down and stay home. There were several times this winter we couldn’t drive down the canyon because of the road conditions and we used the opportunities to be together as a family.
Driving is my final example. I have to take my daughter to school every day. It is just her and me, or is it she and I? Anyway, the two of us get to be alone together for 15 minutes and talk about whatever she wants to talk about. Sure the drive cuts into the middle of my morning. It slows my momentum. I often leave breakfast dishes and needy children to walk out the door, but the time I get with my daughter each morning is a blessing.
Life goes by so quickly. We all see it speeding by and sometimes we complain that it goes too fast, but then we are quick to complain when something slows us down. In the end, I want to remember that anything that forces me to slow down is a potential blessing.