20 Aug 2015

When Back to School is Scary

I took both my boys to their new school’s orientation this afternoon. It the obligatory “drop off your school supplies and meet your teacher” chaos. And you guys, there I was standing in the brand new hallway with my son introducing him to his brand new teacher in his brand new school with all its brand new classrooms and gym and kids and expectations and as I looked over at his brave, nervous face behind his glasses I almost lost it.

Our kids are so brave, aren’t they?



They’re so brave because they’re all kinds of nervous and insecure and they DO IT ANYWAY.

There is just so, so much we can learn from them.

I watched my sons and I knew how awkward they felt and how different everything seemed from their last school and I could read behind their eyes how badly the younger one wanted to cry. But instead he held out his hand and introduced himself and shared three things about himself he wanted his new teacher to know about him.

And I gulped back a huge sob of my own and I repeated his teacher’s name so we wouldn’t forget it and I laid my hand on his desk and read the names of the students who will sit beside him this year.

He told me that it’s all so different. He told me he wanted to go home. And I know he didn’t mean back to our old house in Virginia, but back to the school building and hallways and kids and teachers and routine that’s all he’s known the last three years.

And part of me wanted to take him.

But part of me is also going to be brave and so I looked him in the eye and told him that I was sure Jesus had picked out this classroom for him. And that Jesus knew the names of every kid who would be sitting at his circle of desks. And that because Jesus knows what he loves and how he learns best and who he will grow up to be one day, we can trust Jesus with the classroom he chose. We can trust Jesus with the kids and the routine and the math.

He said he still wasn’t sure.

And I told him that’s OK. We don’t have to be sure. That’s why they call it faith.

Then we came home and they played mine craft and we were all relieved to be able to relax back into the familiar.

But on Monday both my sons will pack up their backpacks and courage and take it all along with their nerves and worries into a new classroom because that’s how we keep growing up.

And it turns out you can be 41 and still there’s lots of growing still to do because it’s so hard every time we discover a new way that Jesus plans to stretch us. But we trust Him because we can look back where we came from and He’s been right every time.

We can tell ourselves it’s “just” a new school. Or “just” that new job you have. Or “just” a move or “just” another baby or “just” a fresh start.

But really, there is no “just” about our lives. They are unique to us and every change is something we need to process and we all process differently. There’s no need to rush. There’s no need to minimize.

There’s no “just” about you.

I remember that this afternoon as we climb out of the blue minivan with a summer’s worth of sports and vacation trampled into its carpets, and I make room for us all to feel sad and nervous. I say the words out loud to my kids. “We’re all a bit sad and nervous. That’s OK guys”

And it is you know.

It really is.


Our favorite Laugh out Loud Joke books for kids found here.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Thank you Lisa Jo!
    As always you hit the perverbial nail on the head. Our kids are so strong and brave and deal with change and differences so much better then we adults often do. Thank you also for the reminder not to minimize, but to allow the time needed to process, wise words. Looking forward with mixed emotions to our Jesus stretching this year.

  2. 2

    i love your post. My granddaughter started kindergarten this week and cried every day. They have been raising caterpillars which are now in the cocoon stage. Her mommy compared her anxious fears to being in the cocoon. Each caterpillar is struggling to become a butterfly. She said she felt like she needed to stay in the cocoon today but Monday she will come out as a butterfly.

  3. 3

    I know I’ve told you a dozen times, but we are right there with you. A move and a brand new school. In two weeks I will be taking my brave-scared 1st grader to his new school (with the very real possibility of another school change right around the corner) and I want to be able to go back to comfortable with him. But they say this stretches us. That it’s good to not protect him from fear. So we keep going forward.

  4. 4

    This made me cry this morning over breakfast, and we aren’t even in back to school season where we live. I see my kids at their bravest when they face things that they are scared of, like when my son suddenly broke down crying in his kindergarten end of year performer- I so badly wanted to pull him off the stage- but he took a minute and pulled himself together and finished the poem, amazing!!! It’s true for me too living in a culture not my own, many days I don’t feel brave.

  5. 5

    And that is great, godly, grace-filled parenting, Mama. My mom heart thanks you – and my assistant principal heart even more so!

  6. 6

    This week we started school. My younger son started 5th grade in the school that my children have gone to since Kindergarten. It’s all they know. He’s in the grade his brother was in last year. He has the teacher that last year assigned the students to work in groups to make a game, but no one wanted my older son in their group, and somehow she was okay with that. He made his own game and although it was a big hit and the kids liked playing with it, other boys damaged the game pieces by throwing them and stepping on them when the teacher left the room. No one was punished because she wasn’t sure who did it. Yeah, that didn’t sit to well with me. Now I’m nervous for my younger son in her class. He is a little more socially adept than his older brother so I’m hoping he fares better. This year we, I, am homeschooling our older son. It may seem like staying home is the safe thing to do, but to tell the truth it is scary for both of us. He’s not sure what to expect and our first day was a disaster mainly due to my lack of planning. We will both learn and fail and grow as this year moves along. Different paths for different boys but we are one family.

  7. 7

    Praying right now for your children. My Dad was in the Air Force, and I moved 16 times before my high school graduation. In 4th grade, I went to 3 different schools. IN ONE YEAR. I remember that sick-tummy-hurting-nervous feeling all too well…even tho that was a 100 years ago. I never thought I was being brave, because no one ever told me I was. But now that I’m a Mom…I think I was very brave. And your kids are brave, too. We just took our youngest (4th child) to college…and he is being very brave. And I’m telling him that he is.

  8. 8

    It really is. We can learn a lot from our little folk.

  9. 9

    Thank you so much for this. Next month we move to a new town…closer to my husband’s work. Our kiddo will be moving to a new school and I’ll be starting a new job. Every thing you wrote just resonates with what is going on. Thanks for the reminder Jesus has put us in the new classes and jobs for a reason, and it is ok to not be sure. and Yes little kids are so brave !


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