Yesterday, my son, who is on the verge of graduating high school, received a letter from his kindergarten teacher. She wanted to congratulate him for making it to the end.
Do you know how stinkin’ amazing this is? No, you don’t. You can’t possibly.
Now I don’t know why or when she started looking for her Senior Kindergarteners, but she did and she does. I don’t know what her motivation is but can I tell you how her letter impacted me?
Thirteen years ago I had left my husband with two little boys and was pregnant with my third. It was the summer before my oldest was to start kindergarten.
We moved in with my dad and step mom, and even though for seven years, I had dreamed of walking my children to the little school around the corner from our house in Surprise, I found myself walking him to the bus stop that took him to the same school I attended as a child, in Phoenix.
This wasn’t my plan. This wasn’t anyone’s plan.
He got into a little bit of trouble in kindergarten. He was often caught fighting with another little boy for the honor of sitting next to his friend Brandon. He liked to talk. He was a little know-it-all, but he was happy and not shy, and he liked to lead.
It’s funny, we often talk about five-year-old Tunes, and how he’s so different from eighteen-year-old Tunes. Maybe it’s not so funny.
A lot of things have changed since then.
After his third grade, I transferred him to an inner city school when his brother started kindergarten. I had since moved from my dad’s house and was back on my own.
The school was centrally located, and since I drove all over the valley for work, it was conveniently located. It came with free breakfasts, free lunches, and free morning and aftercare. On top of all that, it was an A+ school with small classrooms. How could I have gone wrong?
Well, it went terribly wrong.
Three years later, while my third son was now in kindergarten, I finally saw the signs that my son was being bullied. And not just bullied. He later revealed to me he was knocked down and beat often.
Now here I was, not the woman I am today, having to find the nerve to sit down to talk to an African-American, male principal, and explain that my blonde hair, blue eyed little boy was getting picked on daily, because he was white. Then I had to listen to his teacher, who maintained it was undeniably not true.
I would like to say I promptly removed my children from that school, but after three years I would say I wasn’t prompt enough.
My son who had once gotten into constant trouble for talking too much, had friends he could fight over, could never be wrong, was a leader and was happy, found himself isolated in his bedroom, did not go to his friend’s house, started failing in school, struggled with anxiety, eventually started lying to his parents, stopped visiting his dad, started sneaking out of the house to hang with the wrong crowd and it’s been exactly one month ago that he got himself kicked out of our house and is living three blocks down from his family who loves him with all their heart.
Yeah, I don’t think I was prompt enough.
Because absences, along with grades, are threatening whether or not he graduates in four weeks, I have been physically driving him to school every morning. I believe that even though he is not in my house, I am still his mother and it is my job to make sure he gets to class every day. I can’t make him do the work, but I can make sure he’s there.
On the day that he received this letter, yesterday, we had been arguing…again. We were both frustrated. We were both tired. I left him feeling that yucky pit in my stomach.
However, a couple hours later I received a text from him as if the morning had never happened.
“Mom, look what I just got.”
It was her letter. We text back and forth to each other for a few minutes. I had a brief moment with my five-year-old Tunes. It was nice.
Her letter made me cry. It made me cry because she knew him as a five-year-old, not the eighteen-year-old version. She only knew him as the little boy who was in constant trouble for talking too much, had friends he fought over, could never be wrong, was a leader and was happy. Not many others even knew that kid.
Her letter brought me back thirteen years to my longest, darkest hour, when my family was falling apart, and I saw Jesus was there.
Jesus was there even when I didn’t see him. Even when I was so far from him, he was there. And he saw me. He saw us!
Did she know all these years later she would be showing me how Jesus held us together?
He brought us to her. He knew how much Tunes was going to struggle. He knew he would be in danger of not finishing his senior year.
Did she know all these years later she would be encouraging my son to persevere, to not give up, to stick it out?
That’s all Jesus. That’s amazing!
I hope her letter motivates him to finish strong. I hope it reminds him of who he is and what he’s capable of. I hope it reminds him of his start and it encourages him to finish. I hope it gives him hope…and a future.
Jesus is hope. I hope he sees Him too.
Thank you, Mrs. Britt. I think you are an amazing person.