It was about this same time last year. A time when my eyes were perpetually red and puffy from crying every 10 minutes. My first child, my little sidekick, my hilarious little buddy was going to kindergarten. I was determined I would not survive the first two weeks and couldn’t even imagine beyond that.
We had an Open House scheduled at his school. The date was looming on the calendar like a flashing red warning light. The night finally arrived and I had already given myself about 12 pep talks about not crying. I was not going to be the mom who cried. Not months before the first day of school. No way. It was not going to happen.
Even with the talks, the giant lump in my throat was beginning to rise higher and higher, making it hard to swallow.
I made it through the front doors and found a seat with all the other wide- eyed parents. I thought the whole thing felt very surreal. I had to be dreaming, right? He was still curled up like a little burrito on my chest sleeping. Right? I begged myself to wake up. It never happened. After a few introductions of the principal and teachers, one of the teachers made her way to the front and played a video.
Oh. My. Word.
It was a song, Let Them Be Little. If you haven’t heard it, take a minute to go listen. I’ll wait… You’re back? Ok, so now you’ll understand when I say the room started spinning. I literally had to stop breathing, stare at an empty spot on the wall and not move. I even had a white-knuckle grip on my seat. Had I moved or looked anywhere else I would not only cry, it would be an outburst. An all out ugly cry right there in the library in front of all the other kindergarten moms, teachers, and kids.
I tried to go over my dinner menu for the week. Anything to distract from the flood building up in my eyes. My husband was also frozen, not to keep from crying, but because he knew one slightly wrong move would set me over the edge.
I survived and went through the rest of the tour in a daze. The first thing I said to anyone about that night was, how could they play that song? It was torture! It created an explosion of emotions that I had to contain in my already exploding heart! I just couldn’t figure it out.
A few weeks later, I somehow found myself with a morning alone. This is rare. The house was quiet. My mind kept drifting to that night. I gathered up some courage and played the song again. This time I didn’t care if the tears fell. This time I listened and absorbed the words. It brought joy and a little frustration…at myself.
How many times do I focus on getting somewhere or making it to bed exactly on time or worrying about laundry or dinner or just stuff…and in the process I forget this very important step? Let them be a kid! Sometimes my vision, though well intentioned, can get too focused on schedules or time and doing that can take away the fun.
Yes, I consciously plan fun activities a lot. I love doing that, but I’m talking about remembering to let them be kids in everyday tasks and noticing random opportunities to just live and see life through their eyes.
I’m so thankful for that teacher. The one who played that song. She is also the one who became his first teacher and was absolutely an answer to prayer. That night, though I didn’t realize it yet, she put that reminder in my mind and just when I need it the most, those words surface. I finally understood.
Let them be little. Let them be kids. Let them stop and pick weed “flowers” or watch a worm crawl or find a bird’s nest or play 5 more minutes. Let them run barefoot and have a popsicle before dinner or jump on the couch. Let them sleep in your bed and wear PJs all day or be a princess superhero at the grocery. Let them explore the world and splash in the bath and run through the house wearing towel cape. Let them get messy. Really messy.
It reminds me to put down the dishes and chase lightning bugs. Let the dirty clothes pile up and read another book, or 4. To really listen to wild, imaginative stories and play games and have tickle wars. To swing a few more minutes, go down the slide one more time, swim a little longer. It reminds me to have picnics and play dolls all morning and giggle over the word poop.
Let them hear loving words from your lips and feel worthy and proud and they’ll reach for the clouds.
Even when I’m frustrated or tired, especially then, I’m thankful for these four words. They change my whole perspective and allow me to be little again too.
These days are precious. They are passing fast. Even if you’re a by the book, stay on schedule planner like me…break the rules sometimes. What will it matter if we get to bed a little later a few times or spend too long hiking one afternoon and have to order pizza instead of cook a planned meal? What will it matter if we eat dessert first one night or run through a store singing as loud as we can? I’ll tell you why it will matter, because they’ll smile and laugh and be carefree…and see us doing the same. They’ll be little.
They’ll remember their experiences fondly and hopefully one day when they’re all grown-up…they’ll let their children be little too.