Noah, wow! I can’t believe you start your first day of elementary school tomorrow. I just finished putting you to bed and wanted to share a few things with you before your big day.
First, you need to know I’m a little scared. It takes a lot of trust in other people (and God) to let other people be responsible for you all day. Sure you’ve been in preschool before, but this is different. This is a big elementary school! At dinner tonight I thought about how the playground at your new school isn’t fenced in all the way, and you like to run away sometimes. I worry about the teacher not paying attention and you running to the street and getting hit by a car, or kidnapped. I worry about other kids making fun of you, or wondering why you’re still in diapers, or can’t talk as well as they probably can (yet!) I worry about you needing help with your lunch box, or name tag, or backpack, or shoes, or a million other things.
I wonder if you’re ready for this.
I’ve seen you cross so many milestones. I remember the moment you were born. I remember bringing you home from the hospital for the first time. The remember all of those physical therapy sessions on the treadmill to help you learn to walk. I remember when you sat up for the first time. I remember when you pulled yourself up for the first time. When you crawled for the first time. When you took your first steps, and countless other milestones. Tomorrow is just another one of those milestones for you, and it’s a big one.
I love you so much. So much. And I’m so proud to be your dad, more than you will probably ever know. I wouldn’t change one chromosome about you. From the second I lied eyes on you at the hospital I’ve been your biggest fan (your mom is a close 2nd…!) You’ve crushed so many of your milestones, you’ve worked as hard as any little boy I’ve ever know, and I know you will do well as you start kindergarten!
As you start the first day of what will be a long journey of your education I want to share a few thoughts with you. These thoughts not only apply for tomorrow, but for the rest of your life.
- You were created by God, in the Image of God, to do amazing things! Genesis 1:27 says that God made all people (including you) in His image. Psalm 139:13 says that God knitted you in your mother’s womb. And Ephesians 2:10 says that God created you to do good works! These are some of the most important things I can tell you. You were made specifically by the God of the universe and He loves and cares for you greatly. If you forget everything else, remember this. God loves you greatly, son.
- God is control. Nothing in this world is a surprise to God. He runs the show, and He runs it well. Even when things happen in life that we don’t understand (and the odds are they will) He understands. God doesn’t tell us we will always understand everything, but He does tell us to trust Him in everything that happens. This is a lesson that you’ll have to learn over the course of your life, but trust me son, You can trust God. He knows what He’s doing.
- Your parents love you greatly. We aren’t perfect parents by any means, but man, oh man, do we love you. We’re crazy about you.
- People can be mean. Don’t let this surprise you. And as much as you can, don’t let it bother you. This is really hard to do, especially when your young. But you’ve got to learn to shake the haters off, and there will be haters.
- Extend grace to people as much as you can. People are probably going to say things they don’t mean. People are probably going to make comments because they’ve never meet anyone with Down syndrome before. Some of these comments may be mean, some of them may be made out of ignorance. As hard as it can be, try to give people mountains and mountain of grace. (Even the mean people.)
- A lot of people have never met anyone with Down syndrome. You look different to others who do not have Down syndrome. You sound different than others you don’t have Down syndrome. It’s ok. You need to let people know it’s okay to ask questions. Let people know they don’t have to walk on egg shells around you. Give them the freedom to talk with you about Down syndrome. People can be afraid of what they don’t know, so help them to get to know you. (This will be hard to do tomorrow since you’re only in kindergarten, but I wanted to put this one on the list.)
- God has given you a personality that gives others joy. I love watching you give high-fives to others, or sing, or dance. You’re a fun little boy. I love the joy that you have. When people get around you, you help bring out their joy. That’s awesome. Keep doing that!
- Your mom and dad worry about you…your dad way more than your mom! 🙂 You’re our little boy, and so we worry about you. We worry about how other people will treat you. Or you doing something that you don’t know what your doing is unsafe (like running to the street when no one is watching.) We have to keep going back to number 2 on this list and remembering that God is in control and we can trust Him. He loves you even more than we do, and we trust Him. (But know, we’re still going to worry.)
- I’m proud of you. Like crazy, over the top, can’t even put it in words, proud.
- You have to keep your shoes on in school. Please.
- God is in control. He loves you. And you can trust Him.
- I’m only a phone call away. Seriously, if you want to come home, call me! I know, I probably shouldn’t say this, but I am. And I mean it. 🙂
- I’m going to be eating a lot of lunches with you. Get ready. (I also hope you’ll let me do that when it’s not so cool to have your dad come eat lunch with you.)
- Oh, and you rocked those Chuck Taylor’s today!
I’m sure I could think of many other things to share with you, but these are some of the biggies. I love you son. A lot. I have this strange mix of fear, excitement, and love going on inside me right now, but I can sleep well tonight knowing that God holds the whole world in His hands, and that includes you.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. You’re a special kid, Noah, and not just because you were born with Down syndrome. I know that God created you to do something amazing with your life, and I’m thankful I have a front row seat to watch it all unfold.
Sleep well tonight “little” man. You’ve got a big day tomorrow. (And so do I.)