About fifteen minutes ago Meghan and I just let a huge part of Brayden go. We let him get on a bus with some driver-dude I've never met. And now Brayden is under the influence of people I have never had control over: children who have been raised by parents other than Meghan & me and teachers & aides who will influence him in ways that Meghan and I have not, will not, and cannot. He will be hurt. He will likely hurt others. He will interact with people, ideas, and systems that we wish he wouldn't. This great part of his life will be out of our control...by choice.
I ashamedly confess that I used to look down upon home-schooling. This was yet another situation where I thought for sure that I knew best: "How are kids supposed to learn social skills?", etc. But surely...I understand now. I understand the desire to home-school and I believe there are times and places to do so.
Because it's not that we can't control this. We could keep him home. We could even move to northern Canada and just live "safely" as a family away from the whole world. I'm pretty sure we could teach him the academics if we worked hard enough (although, having a public educator as a parent myself, I believe that teachers do often know better than parents). I may even be able to teach him social skills without actually being social (though probably not). But I'm not sure that we could very well teach him the nature of God the Father...who lets us go.
For Meghan and I, we've looked at it this way:
God does not make us love.
God makes us to love.
I wonder if I've felt the macrocosmic heart of a creative God today in this microcosmic releasing of Brayden to a school bus. When God released humanity on earth in the biblical creation story, it's portrayed by God setting Adam & Eve in the garden with some guidance and instructions...yet without balls and chains. I feel this way today. We also see the same nature in the loving Father toward the prodigal son. Many parenting styles today would say, "Um...no son, of course you cannot have your inheritance money because you'll spend it frivolously." Some would even build a fenced-in pen to keep the son in. Yet the loving Father in that parable lets the son go free. The son finds his own pen, and surely a much more disgusting one than the Father could have built for his son. Meghan and I feel that our job as parents isn't always to make our kids comfortable, but rather to comfort them in the situations of life. In the parable, the course of events allows that when the son returns for forgiveness, he has a perspective on the world, life, and love that the son who stayed home can't fathom.
Back to the creation story: it shows God's curiosity in watching what humanity would do. I also feel that way today. Brayden is such an incredible kid. I truly hope that he learns from his teachers and classmates. I believe that they will all teach him things that, as his parents, Meghan and I can't. And when he is taught or experiences things that are contrary to the will and nature of God, we will continue to do our best to show him otherwise. You could call these "teachable moments." Scripture is full of them.
Our greatest hope is that this small release today will help Brayden understand the nature of God the Father all the more. Probably not right now. In fact, he may even be angry at us at some point for letting him get hurt (read the psalms, anyone?). But my hopeful prayer is that, in the long run, it will be best for him in knowing who God is and thus, who he as God's child should be.
(By the way, the girls started preschool yesterday too. Here are some pictures from yesterday and today.)
UPDATE: Despite any fear to the contrary, Brayden did come home and get off the bus just fine. And he had a good time. And the bus driver introduced himself to us. His name is Paul. And he's nice.