Some of you are looking at the picture above and you’re about to scream “honey, I think he shrunk his kid”. Don’t scream. It’s an old fishing picture of me and Elliott. It was taken almost 3 years before yesterday, the day I registered him for kindergarten.
I’m sure you’re thinking I picked out this picture during a trip down memory lane – a coming to grips journey with the idea that our little boy has outgrown bottles and diapers and naps and all things “pre-” school. I suppose if there’s anything that says your baby is no longer a baby it’s signing school registration paperwork, forging a relationship and hopefully a very shared interest in the baby’s afterlife. I can understand if this is an emotional experience for parents. Maybe sad. Certainly reflective. I’ve got to say, though, I felt neither.
Now it’s not like I felt nothing. But after spending the first day of Elliott’s life wondering if he would ever be a life, and then the next week sticking my hand into a glass cage and rubbing his little head and chest through the assortment of wires that were attached to him, I’ve come to equally celebrate all milestones in his life. From the little ones like the first time he passed gas and realized his body had the ability to make some pretty cool sounds, to the bigger ones (although to me that first fart was pretty big) like his first steps and his first words and the first night he slept without a rope tied to his doorknob to make sure he didn’t get up in the night. I don’t begrudge one moment gone by. I find it pretty cool, really, that a baby staring through an incubator can nearly 6 years later walk through the doors of an elementary school and recite his ABCs and count to 100.
I am also reminded that I didn’t want to be a father. Or should I say, being a father wasn’t in the plan I had developed for my life. I loved kids, but kids require a lot of time and I had some terribly important things going on in my life pre-fatherhood. (although for the life of me I can’t remember what they were, now). Then along came Katie with her declaration that God wanted us to be parents. And then along came Elliott.
My look back yesterday, and my look at this picture, wasn’t a reflection, but more an acknowledgement that God really does have a plan for our life. And even when we spend fruitless hours and days and weeks and even decades tinkering with a plan of our own, only to realize we’re dizzied by the circular path we’ve created for ourselves, God is still patiently waiting to hand us the directions for a new plan. Yesterday I could help but give thanks for such an awesome plan – an awesome Planner.
When I looked at this picture last night, I couldn’t help but notice Elliott trailing a few steps behind. Watching his daddy’s every move. Proud as can be to be carrying part of the gear. But yesterday as we headed into Henry Clay Elementary School, Elliott led the way. Just a few steps ahead. And his dad couldn’t have been prouder to be following him, carrying the paperwork.