Twelve years ago we made the decision to "redshirt" our children by having them repeat Kindergarten as they changed schools. We did this for many reasons including their prematurity, early Summer birthdays, mixed genders, small stature, and our general observation that while we knew a handful of people who wished they had given their children the gift of an extra year at home, we didn't know any who regretted doing so.
This Spring, as similarly-aged students were preparing for high school graduation, I found myself full of gratitude that we had another year. I felt strongly this Summer was going to be instrumental in giving our freshly minted 18-year-olds opportunities to experience independence, maturity, and space.
Kate & Ryland were hired as counselors at the camps in Mentone, Alabama & Black Mountain, North Carolina where they spent their childhood Summers. Parker decided to serve on the Work Crew (doing outdoor maintenance and sound tech) at a Young Life camp in Brevard, North Carolina. By the end of July, all should return with 5-8 weeks of out-of-the-nest experience under their belts.
Meanwhile, my husband and I have been practicing a new normal herein the nest--where we eat smaller meals in a quieter house with much less frenzied schedules. We have been referring to this time as our "training wheel Summer."
As my people start returning in the next two weeks, I want to be intentional about honoring all we have learned. I am praying about exactly what that looks like, but I am convinced the first two steps are being mindful about it and putting it down on paper.
I have been making lists of things we need to cover when they return...from college applications to high school Summer work and haircuts and sports practices in between. I am hoping to have a couple of individual meetings with each one to debrief when they return and reinstate weekly family meetings as the Fall begins.
But I am posting this as a pause to honor the gift of this victory lap...as the training wheels are loosened and we remain a soft place to land. I hope we can start to deliberately transition from chaperone to coach/consultant--and hope our kiddos will have grace for us as we learn to ride on two wheels too!