My husband and I are missionaries in Mazatlán, Mexico. Last week, our oldest son, Ethan, started first grade at the public school in the low-income neighborhood where we live. It’s been a rough transition. He loved kindergarten and his sweet Maestra Alma. But Alma teaches in another building, and the elementary kids look huge.
Four out of five days last week,
Ethan sobbed when I dropped him off.
Two days, I had to drag him through the doors. After crying and pleading Sunday night, Monday morning, I agreed to sit just outside his classroom door for a while to see if that helped. It didn’t. I spent two hours at school. Ethan cried every time he looked at me. When I tried to leave, he rushed to pack his book bag and refused to let go of me crying, “I want to go home with you!”
I left anyway. I walked out, without looking back,
knowing that tears were still spilling down his face.
This incident influenced my whole day. As pastors, our weekends are full. We usually rest on Monday. Instead of feeling rested, I felt stressed and worried.
I prayed. I reminded myself that Ethan knows and adores plenty of kids in school. I considered the alternative—full-time homeschooling. Ethan’s school day only runs from 8:00am -12:30pm, so I already homeschool part-time. But with two younger boys at home, I’m not sure I’m up to the full-time challenge. At home I fretted and sulked.
A couple hours later, I stood in the boiling sun with a crowd of other moms anxiously waiting. Ethan ran out laughing and happy, just as he had after school every day last week. Walking down the dirt street back to our house, he jabbered about funny things his friends had said and done.
He had already forgotten how he felt earlier that morning. I still felt frustrated and resentful.
He took my emotions on a wild, painful ride, and then forgot!
When I pointed this out, he quickly apologized, throwing his sweaty arms around me in a bear hug. Now it’s my turn to forget, forgive, and let go.
Ellen Benefield writes about missionary life and parenting at Mexicomercy.blogspot.com. She and her husband, Kyle, planted a church in a low-income community called Doña Chonita seven years ago. They have three children, all born in Mazatlán.