Mama goes to school–and learns a lesson

Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

Well, that was an interesting week.  While the rest of you were going about your daily lives, trotting to work, riding shotgun on the kids and paying your bills, this girl went back to school.  Twice.

Oh, I know it’s not August and the buses have been rolling for months, but at my house, it was back-to-school week.  There’s a reason we say, “You can’t pay to be bored around here.”  You really can’t, and that’s a fact.

It was a birthday that started it.  As I announced to my friends on Facebook, “Twenty-three years ago today, this mama (not Mary) brought forth her firstborn son, swaddling him up and laying him, not in a manger, but in an isolette. A timely child, he debuted on his expected date of appearance, charming all who came to look upon his bundled form. And the doctor and nurses gasped when the scales read 8-10, for the mother was, like, a size 2? And he was a moose, handsome as all get out, favoring his earthly father (not Joseph). Happy birthday, College Kid!”

To mark his arrival (which I mentioned) and to celebrate the feat of birthing a chunky muskmelon when the doctor’d predicted a papaya (which I didn’t mention), I set out.  Chucking the BOP (Bright Orange Purse) into the BMV (Blue Mommy Van), I headed for a college campus to grab the BG (Birthday Guy).  Who, I discovered on arrival, had pulled an all-nighter.  Noting how he towered over me, I bit my tongue instead of twisting an earlobe and chose to feed him breakfast.

Over mochas, we talked about his present and future.  About the job offer he was considering and what came next.  We talked, and I listened, tuning an ear in that way mothers have to what was unsaid beneath the said.

Then it was time to leave.  I kissed his cheek.  “Thank you for showing up,” I said.

“You’re such a blessing to our family, and we’re so glad you came.” That’s what I didn’t say, but what I hope he heard.  Then with a, “Get some sleep,” which I definitely said, I dropped him at his apartment and left.

From academics at the college level, I dropped back to the basics.  Back to where, per Robert Fulghum, you learn “all you really need to know.” I went back to kindergarten.

It was Ornament Day in Little’s class.  Needing one more pair of hands, his teacher had called, “Can you help?” and off I went to the elementary school, the world of Tempura paint, glitter and projects made by smallish hands.

His face when he saw me was payment enough.  Beaming, he settled in right beside me with five of his classmates, and together we set about transforming plain pine cones into sparkly ornaments that their mamas would cherish for years to come.

One after another, they came, painting, sticking on sequins and shaking snow-colored glitter onto wet, green cones.  Finished, now, they scattered about the room to color cheerful Christmas pictures until it was time to clean up.

Then it happened.  Bending low, I scooped them up. Ah! Fresh, new crayons.

Like that, I’m transported to my childhood, mesmerized by the potential packed in row upon row of bright, untouched colors. Oh, the things you could make with Crayolas…

Rainbows. Houses. Families. Animals. Grass in green, trees in brown and crooked yellow suns shining awkward in the corner of the sky.

Who could tell, looking at new crayons marching in lines, what would spring from tips onto paper? Rocket ships? Race cars? Kittens? Anything, anything at all was possible. Beauty, creativity, drama, action, all wrapped in that familiar paper, C-r-a-y-o-l-a printed up the side.

I look at the faces ringing my table. And I’m thinking of those Crayolas. Here, a dimpled Amish boy. There, a budding cheerleader. This one’s shy. That one grins sweet, and this one–oh, he’s a little player, a Romeo, an alpha male.

All these lambs, fresh faced, new like unused Crayolas. Bright-eyed, young, bursting with promise. Who knew what they’d be? Where they’d go? What they’d do? Only One knew their potential; knew what lay hidden within. Only He could see the finished picture; could see what would burst forth onto canvas one day.

Looking at them, some sparkly, some muted, I’m thinking of the Artist. Thinking of how He sees rightly. How He sees clearly. And I give thanks. For no matter what anyone else sees, He always sees the heart. The ‘me.’ The ‘you.’ The real me and you. And in the seeing, He knows what we can be–all of it–and He knows how to get us there.

Oh, glory! Oh, grace.  For in the Artist’s hand, a “crayon” of any shape or color can become an instrument of beauty. No matter how tattered or worn the outside appears.  No matter how time and trials have worn a soul, dulling its tip.

With Him, there’s unlimited potential.  Endless possibilities.  A bright, shining future when resting in His hands.

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