One of my favorite things that Paul and I have learned over the years is the importance of rights of passage. It is a time to take pause. To realize that a moment in your life is changing. That things won't be the same and you need to take a moment to stop, to reflect, to pray, and find tools or wisdom to carry you through this new stage. Our American culture doesn't do a really great job at this, and Paul and I are far from experts, but we love the idea of arming our kids for the next stage of life, and taking pause with them.
Our first right of passage happens when one of our kids starts school. This is a big moment to talk about expectations, how important school is and what an honor it is to go to school. We talk about the responsibilities of being a school age kid, and most important how God can use them to bring his light and love to friends and teachers that might not know him. They are now entering a very special mission field and Mom's and Dad's role in their life is a little different now. There is a lot to talk about, and a lot to pray over for our children in this moment.
We did this for Big last year, and had all these great ideas and hopes and expectations and then he ate candy the day before and we witnessed first hand what sugar does to that kid. Could hardly keep his eyes on us for two seconds, and that is not an exaggeration. He couldn't sit still, he couldn't focus, he couldn't listen. With all that said, we still had a great time, but we were really hoping that this year with Middle would be the way we dreamed this moment would be.
Then Middle threw up till 1am the night before our special right of passage afternoon. We decided to do it anyway and just keep it low key.
The first thing we do on our afternoon is get the kid a backpack. Since they wear a uniform to school, this is pretty special, and it's just us and one kid doing this together. Middle LOVED his new backpack.
This may sound like a perfect and wonderful day, but it wasn't without its reality. We carried Middle most of the time because he was so tired. He was missing a bit of his spark, and his treat included an OJ and banana. Poor little kid. I'll be honest though, out of all three kids, he's the best sick kid. If you have kids, you know each family has one, and he's ours.
Love the extra snuggles though.
After getting the backpack, we go and pick out a treat and then head to a special park where we can sit, eat, talk and pray over our child. Here is a wonderful photo of two of my guys. Ahh...I just took a moment to sit and stare at them. I love them so much.
If dad gets a photo, mom gets a photo.
Since he was doing so great, we let Middle have a couple bites of coconut milk ice cream. Chocolate is Middle's favorite, and he was SO excited.
We even lured a chipmunk to share with us. That was pretty fun to watch. What can I say? We're givers.
This was a special time with Middle set apart from the other kids and set apart to mark the beginning of school. I loved listening to wisdom that Paul passed on to him. I loved the questions Middle had and hearing about the things he was excited for. Praying over our kids is probably one of my favorite things. I love hearing Paul's heart for them and what he dreams for them and what is nervous for. I love that kids hear our hearts and us trying to surrender our will to God's for their life.
Middle's first right of passage. I probably won't be included in the next one since it will deal with boy things, if you know what I mean, but I look forward to planning it with Paul. And it will probably include a weekend away. Lots to talk about as a boy growing into a young man.
The last thing we do for the kids on their first day of school, is give them a necklace to wear. Their name is written on the guitar pick to remind them who they are. They are a Tietjen, and Tietjen's are believers in God. They struggle, they love, they forgive, they laugh, they try hard, they live in God's grace and live a life of serving others. Also on the necklace is a cross which is there to remind them they are not alone. Christ goes with them wherever they go. They belong to him and are not alone.