Today was the first day back to school for my girls. Though we’ve been together all summer, they each seemed suddenly older and taller than before, as they joined their (now 3rd and 5th grade) classes.
At the Waldorf school they attend, the first day back begins with a ceremony in which they welcome each child (in the whole school – grades 1st through 8th) by name.
It culminates with a “rose ceremony” in which each of the eighth grade students presents one of the new first grade students with a rose.
Watching the eighth graders standing there beside the first graders, one can’t help but be keenly aware of the swift passage of time.
A dear friend of mine dropped her daughter off for her first day of high school this morning.
I noticed the same look on my friend’s face that I’ve seen on the faces of many parents dropping off their toddlers for their first day at my childcare center – a mix of hopefulness and fear.
With each step our children take toward being autonomous humans, we feel more and more disoriented.
We feel the tethers release, one by one, throwing us off balance. We adjust our footing.
We know there is no going back, and we want our children’s universe to expand. Still, it’s painful to realize that this means our presence within their universe will inevitably become smaller.
As I was reflecting on the day I recalled is Khalil Gibran poem:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.