Friday, July 13, 2012

Crossing off Our Bucket List

It's like I'm in a classic b-movie, a horror one at that.  No matter where my feet take me, the haunting sound of the ticking clock is close at my heels--ever present, ever louder.

Those around me seem oblivious to the sound and go about their carefree summer routine as I struggle to stay focused and make out what they're saying over the loud roar of this countdown to death.  I smile, talk of such mundane, safe subjects as rain, the cost of peanut butter, and summer colds. 

Yet, whether treasure hunting for mermaids at the pool's bottom, sweating it out on a prayer walk, reading a book to my children, or grocery shopping in a crowd, my mind continually hears that piercing, repetitive "stroke of the blacksmith's hammer upon the anvil."* 

The death sentence has already been pronounced.  I'm just waiting.

It's not as if a person is dying, although in one way, it is just that serious.

One month from today, my oldest son, Wyatt, will start kindergarten.  This phase of life we have lived to the fullest for the past 5 1/2 years is about to die a sudden death to be replaced by a new one. The little boy I have raised for the same time will die to his old self, too, and be replaced by a young man.

To be reborn, first, you must die.

Somehow, Wyatt's body knows this rebirth is coming.  Each day, his first baby tooth wiggles looser, its roots being pushed out by the newness invisible beneath.

He's proud of this.

Earlier in April when he first walked through those large metal doors, he bounced with more excitement than you would expect from a child registering for school. Yet, even now, the word "kindergarten" echoes through my home, its name hallowed on all three children's lips.

When I decided to home school my children through preschool, I never knew I had claimed a "side" of a debate.  I didn't know my actions meant I was making a statement about being a good mother or a good Christian.  I didn't know about the pressure on Christians to withdraw their children from secular education because of a myriad of reasons.  I just did what I felt led to do.

Making the decision to "change sides" and send my son to public school is the most difficult decision I've made thus far as his mother.  Husband was home schooled; I was public schooled.  We have lived in both worlds and understand the pros and cons of both.  As such, we prayed, agonized, listened to the warring factions, become literally ill, even sought our pastor's guidance to get to this moment, this decision. For now, this is it.

Honestly? Even though I believe we have chosen correctly, I'm still sick with fear that I'm about to screw up my little boy's whole life--I fear this will be true no matter what "side" we choose.

One of the worst parts has been feeling others' disapproval over our decision....

It stings.

But here I am-- with so little time left.

Several months ago, I made a bucket list of things my son had already expressed interest in, things I wanted to teach him before others would work alongside me to mold and shape his young mind.

I wanted him to read aloud to me the remainder of the four second grade readers from the 1960s primers he's been consuming like chocolate cake. 

I wanted to be the one to teach him how to tell time on an analog clock, to count to 100 by 5's and 10's, to count money.

These fundamental building blocks of life, itself--reading, telling time, counting, and using money--I wanted that initial knowledge to come from his mother.

One month left and the bucket list is almost all crossed-out.  He's ready.

Wyatt wiggles his tooth again, back and forth with his tongue, brings me a tissue to see if I can pull it out yet.

I'm not ready, but I give it a strong tug anyway, then exhale in relief, fold him into my arms for the few seconds he's willing to stay there.

At least for today, his tooth is not quite ready to grow up either.

*Ambrose Bierce. "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge."

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