First Week


***originally posted on September 4, 2009


Those of you who know my children well will appreciate the humor in this, my latest, rigmarole.

The school year was about to start and Josiah was fretting. He was, he told me in a voice much like his daddy’s, worried about his little brother. After looking over to where his brother sat blissfully building empires on the hardwood floor, he bent over to where I sat on the couch and whispered: “I am afraid he might end up in the principal’s office on the first day” he glanced over to make sure Elijah wasn’t listening, “you know, because he doesn’t listen to instructions.”

God, I assume, must have given mothers better self control. How I managed to keep a straight face is beyond me.

Now before you misunderstand, I am mighty proud of my two boys. They’re as different from each other as Steve and I, and yet they face each day together as one.

Josiah, if you’ve been following my blogs, is the achiever, the perfectionist, the one who brings home the straight A’s and awards.

Elijah, the smart, compassionate boy with a smile that can melt your heart, is proud of his kuya and yet determined to forge his own way, thank you very much.

Both boys can cause lumps to form in my throat. Without having to try too hard.

Both boys are intelligent. They both started reading when they were four years old. Josiah took off, discovering a world of wonder between the pages of every book he could get his hands on. Elijah, content that he could read, simply learned to take advantage of his kuya’s passion for reading–when he finds a book he’s interested in, he hands it to his kuya and settles down to listen. Josiah comes away with interesting facts and can tell you in detail what happened in the story. Elijah, during unguarded moments, will share insights that touch me.

Both boys are so gifted, so talented, my heart readily believes what my head already knows— that God has blessed Steve and I over and beyond what we ever hoped for. And this, believe me, is what keeps us going when mere sense of humor would not. But I digress.

So the first day of school comes, and Steve takes the boys to school. I am home and at about two in the afternoon the phone rings. My heart stills as the caller identifies herself as, “Miss Miller, Elijah’s teacher.” It starts beating again, albeit slowly and in relief, when she goes on to explain that she just wanted to make sure she had Elijah’s information correct.

I truly believe that God has a sense of humor. He has given me two sons who strongly display the traits that I find the hardest to control in myself. Each time I find myself leaning against the kitchen counter top in frustration, I feel the smallest hint of a smile from my Father, and an answering smile, definitely rueful, breaks on my face. Indeed, we grow best when we see the need to through our own eyes.

The first week of school has come to an end. While I stand waiting outside, the principal gets on the PA system and congratulates all the students for a great first week. He announces, with much enthusiasm, that he knows next week will be just as wonderful. A parent behind me, in a jaded voice, mumbles, “He sounds like he’s trying to convince himself.” I chuckled and walked closer to the doors. I want to be able to see my sons’ faces clearly as they walk out of the building.

I know this routine well, and I can tell you what will happen next.

Elijah will walk out biting his lower lip, his eyes scanning the crowd. As soon as he spies me, he will break into a grin and his eyes will light up. He will walk up to me, lean his head against my waist and hug me tight. And then he’d say something funny.

Josiah, now a fourth grader, will walk with pace unaltered. He will stand beside me, greet me and take my hand in his. But he will turn his head to keep talking to his friends. Five seconds later, my hand is empty, and my firstborn is walking ahead with his friends. He pauses, just long enough to make sure we’re following.

We walk home together like that. We get to our house and I open the front door. Inside, it’s different. Inside, I get to snuggle with both boys, and both are my babies once more. Inside, for now, I can stop the clock and pretend my babies do not have one foot out the door, ready to conquer the world.


For this one, you’ll find me cleaning up the mess on the dining room table:

Josiah: So, how’d you like your first week of school?
Elijah: Good. I only got one warning.

My hand stills, and I listen carefully.

Josiah: A warning? For what? (His voice is one pitch higher)
Elijah: For not listening. But it’s ok. I only lost 5 minutes of playtime.
Me: You got in trouble for not paying attention?
Elijah: Yes, me, Elijah N. and my classmate Elijah C.

Elijah and I are snuggling in bed…

Me: So, baby, you learned your lesson, right? You need to listen and not get in trouble?
Elijah: But that was only one time, and before that I got a “good work”!
Me: And why did you get a “good work”?
Elijah: Because I was paying attention and obeying. I do that sometimes, you know.
Me: Well why not all the time? Some of your classmates got “excellent job”.
Elijah: Because I get tired of doing that and it’s too easy.

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