Back to school...sorta cool

We had a smooth and happy back-to-school experience today, for which I am of course, grateful. We had Family Home Evening last night where I told them that when pondering the message I wanted to take with them into the school year, "let the Holy Spirit guide" had popped into my mind. We talked about the words of this hymn, and about the comfort, guidance, protection and enlightenment available to us if we will live worthy of it and ask for it. They were entranced by the concrete examples of how the Spirit might help them in daily school situations. It was cool. Finny continued the conversation today on his way to be "screened" for kindergarten. "I'm not nervous at all, " he assured me earnestly, "because I know that I will remember what I know, and there will always be someone next to me to help me to be alright".

The faith of a child can be a humbling thing. It was also very exciting to see him take the things we have been talking about and frame them into his own experience the next day. I thought it was pretty cool that he had paid specific attention the fact that we discussed, the Spirit "will bring all things to your remembrance" (John 14:26), and of course that the Comforter will be by our side always if we allow Him to be.

After that the kids each eagerly received their Father's blessing, as is our back-to-school tradition. I love to watch them receive these blessings (I only peek a little bit), their sweet little faces so sober and intent as they absorb the promises and assurances they are given.

It was also amazing to see the attitude change from some trepidation, disappointment over not getting a hoped for teacher, or a friend in their class, to confidence and excitement. After they had received theirs, they suggested I get a blessing too, which I did, and was greatly comforted and uplifted.

Amazingly everyone had a good solid night of sleep. One of the few times in recent memory that nobody came down to whine that they "couldn't sleep". Astounding really under the circumstances.

We were up early for eggs,
pancakes, orange juice, lightly sprinkled with butterflies and then came the walk to school. It seems to get shorter every year, as their legs get longer, I suppose, and nobody needs to be carried or freaks out because they are lagging behind. Another thing that changed is that the boys forged ahead once the school came into sight, left us with barely a backward glance and cursory wave, and I refrained from waving at them from the classroom door. I think it's probably time.

The group photo is not quite representative of reality, since Finny officially starts Kindergarten only on Friday, but it was agreed that his first day of school outfit coordinated so well with his brother's that it would be a travesty not to have him in there too. Benj goes into 6th grade, his last year of elementary school, (that's Std. 5 for the folks in SA-crazy, no??) Gabe into 4th, Gracie into 2nd and of course the Finnster into K at the end of the week. We got to walk home with daddy and stopped to enjoy the dew on the roses on the way. (Although we forgot to smell them.)

It is tradition for me to make cookies with the remaining children for those school-goers on the first day back. It struck me a bit sad at how much my baking team has dwindled over the years. I will probably add
some tears into the mix next year when I make them all alone for the first time.

Finny and I sat on the doorstep awaiting their return, and were happy to see three cheerful travelers returning. Everyone had a wonderful first day and even the ones who were the most sour about things not turning out quite their way are super positive about the year ahead. Hoping this trend continues.

I have to say that this has not been a quiet day. Finny without his playmates has kept up a pretty steady stream of conversation and all three of the older ones proceeded to tell me about their days in painstaking detail, all at the same time from the moment they stepped through the door 'til the moment they left for soccer and my overstimulated psyche breathed a sigh of relief. Ironic, isn't it?

I am exhausted in general. Getting 4 kids geared up and ready for school takes an extraordinary amount of work, really when you break it all down. It did not help that due to various circumstances, I had left much of it to do post 12km run in the most oppressive heat and humidity of the summer yesterday. It was the last run for Benj and I before he went back to school and it was, shall we say, character building. When enough of a breeze kicked up on the way back (we run an out and back course) to allow me to wax philosophical, we talked about how the most heinous experiences in running and in life, really are the ones that end up being the most valuable to us in the end. We almost turned back on my insistence 3 or 4 times quite close to the start of our run, when I felt that he was having too hard a time, but he grimly persisted. He was frustrated by the fact that he was struggling but I feel that he should take great pride in that struggle.

I told him that I have learned that if everything was always easy, and he never had runs where his legs felt like lead and he felt like he was breathing with a wet blanket over his face, he'd never have these opportunities to see what he was made of, how driven and determined he can be. Or experience the accompanying satisfaction when he finally reach your destination, having done what he set out to do. The journey may suck, the destination though, is all the more exhilarating for that suckiness. Running. Ever the great metaphor for life.

Anyway I am feeling somewhat rejuvenated from these few moments of silence and ready to tackle the dishes. Even though I have slaved over a hot pizza box and a salad bowl already tonight, a woman's work is never done...

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Janet said...

Hooray for a wonderful first day. Such darling children.

jill said...

Don't you love the 1st day of school pics? I checked on Ben today (covertly) as I checked on Jessi (not so covertly). All was good. I didn't see any of your other kids. I was in the Library cleaning. I think Euler is going to do Library on Thursday...I think... As always your blog was right on target with my life. Except for the whole blessings and cookie making. We harassed them at the bus stop then I took a nap until noon. Kinda the same...right?

Jen Lynn said...

What??? Finny??? Kindergarten????
Nnnooooo! Say it ain't so.

nyn said...

That is so sweet. I love the cookie baking tradition. What a great idea. We just go for slushies...or smushies as Adelle calls them. This is our first day of school celebration food.And yes, running is always a great metaphor. LOVE IT.

{april kennedy} said...

Awww....tomorrow morning is our first day. I think homemade cookies shall be on my list too. Great idea. I will be making mine alone. Blake's in first grade which means six full hours of bliss...errr...I mean anxiously awaiting their return home! Although tomorrow is a short day. Out at maybe I should do lunch and on Thursday do cookies!

Anyway, glad your first day went really well. And I love your family theme! I might have to use that one next year.

Terresa said...

This is a heart warming post. Do you see it? What a sweet, lovely family you have. What a tribute.

I loved the cookie baking tradition...just might have to start that one in my house, too. (Our school year starts next Monday).

Hula Hooping Mom said...

It sounds like you all have a lot of great traditions!

Jessica said...

Oh they are so stinkin' cute....I love the picture of them walking along beside the sunflowers.

I hope they have a FAB first day...I love all your little traditions!!!

Anonymous said...

You think of such GREAT things to do! Love your blessing and cookies traditions. You are a wonderful mom, and you did not even care about your dolls much when you were little! The kids all look so gorgeous - healthy and happy. I guess that is the plus of them being a bit older. Less drama and stress. At least for a while. When I wanted you all to freeze in time I would have to remind myself that then I would not have this precious moment that I am in now. You are doing the right thing of just relishing every moment! Well done!

ANewKindOfPerfect said...

Kirsty your family is always such a beacon of love and faith. :)

Megan Gery said...

wow. a more devoted documentarian i have never seen. i love all the traditions you have with your family. i miss you guys!

Dahling said...

Glad everyone has a great first day back at school. The pictures are great, so funny how the background flowers are the same every year but the kids in front of them just get bigger !