Yesterday, my wife and I took our daughter, Nee, to her first day of second grade. Nee had been looking forward to this day for a long time and was very excited. After negotiating our way into the school’s parking lot. As we searched for a parking space, my daughter asked, “What are you doing?”
My wife, KayEm, responded, “We’re parking so we can take you to your classroom.”
A look of horror came across her face. “No,” she responded. “Just drop me off. I’ll go in by myself.”
And with that proclamation, Nee let us know that she was independent. We stopped the van to let her out and watched as she ran to the gym to meet her new teacher and classmates. Of course you know that the story doesn’t end there. I took off work to take her to school, so I was determined to do so. I parked the van and KayEm and sneaked to her classroom before the class arrived. When we got there, several other parents were already waiting to greet their little darlings. I was glad to see several other fathers. Our numbers did not come close to the number of mothers, but we made a respectable showing.
When Nee walked into the classroom, she was surprised to see us. I was surprised that there were two other African American girls in her class. As I mentioned before, Nee attends a private school and I was glad to see that the school is becoming more diverse.
After meeting Nee’s teacher, I took some pictures to document the day, gave Nee a pep talk and kissed her good-bye. KayEm and I walked away happy to see that our little girl was settling into her first day of second grade.
Getting to this first day of school was not without drama. All summer, Nee and KayEm fretted over which class Nee would be placed in and which of her friends would be in class with her. Each night, Nee prayed that her best friend would be in her class. My wife and I prayed that Nee would be placed with the best teacher for her. Of course, KayEm had her own idea of who she thought was the best teacher, but we prayed nonetheless.
The class lists were sent out during the first week of August. As you can imagine, anticipation began to swell by the last week of July. My wife was at the mailbox every day until that letter finally showed up. When she opened it, the look on her face told me that things didn’t work out the way she wanted them to. Nee was not placed in the preferred teacher’s class and to make things worse, Nee’s friend would not be in class with her either.
My wife was crushed and I knew that Nee would be even more devastated. My major concern was that Nee would believe that God doesn’t answer her prayers. The last time she prayed with such fervency was when my wife was pregnant with our third child. Nee already had a brother and she desperately wanted a little sister. When she found out that we were having a boy, she was inconsolable for at least 10 minutes. She has finally warmed up to her baby brother and adores him, but I knew that explaining God’s ways to her would be more difficult this time.
As expected, Nee burst into tears when she saw the list. She tried to throw the paper in the garbage as if that would make things better. The first thing out of her mouth was that God never answers her prayers. I hated to see my little princesses hurting like this and I didn’t know if I could say anything that would make her feel better and not lose her faith in God.
When she had calmed down, I explained to her that God doesn’t always answer her prayers the way the she expects Him to. I told her that there was a reason for God’s placing her and her friend in different classes. Perhaps, God wanted her to make friends with new people, or maybe He had a separate plan for her friend. I continued by letting her know that I don’t always understand why God allowed certain things to happen, but I continue to have faith. I could tell that she was still disappointed, but my talk seemed to help a little.
On the day before classes started, the school held an open house for parents and students to see their new classrooms and to meet the teacher. This is where Nee found out that God does indeed work in mysterious ways. This year, the school moved to a team teaching concept for the elementary grades. Therefore, Nee would be taught by the teacher that her mother desired. More importantly, she will be able to spend time with her best friend throughout the school day. Praise God!
Last night before bed, I read Hebrews 11:1 to Nee. It states: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Because of her experiences in the past couple of weeks, Nee finally understood the meaning of this simple, yet complex verse.
For me, the start of the school year turned out to be an exercise in faith and sort of an emotional roller coaster. I wonder what the rest of the year has in store.