Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wake up Honey-Girl

When my daughter finished her first year of kindergarten, I made a batch of almond bread biscotti as parting gifts for her teachers. Since our Australian school year finishes just before Christmas, I added green and red sugared cherries to the mix and tied them in cellophane bags with raffia. It was a labor of love, following a 'new to me' recipe, as I worked apron clad late into the evening before her last day of school. Close to midnight I admired my baking. Something was missing.

I had the perfect Christmas gift tags to go with our presents, but I knew the finishing touch should be my daughter's name in her own handwriting. I tiptoed into her room and after a few gentle taps managed to get her sleepy fingers to grip a pen.

"Wake up Honey-Girl... you need to write your name here. Sophie? Can you do that for Mummy?"

I guided her hand to the card and she looked at me with the stare of a sleepwalker - eyes open, still dreaming. After a few groggy attempts I gave up, switched the lights off and planned for another try in the morning. This time, her name embellished the cards with childlike flourish, and we delivered our parcels with Christmas wishes and heartfelt thanks.

As the years flew by, scribbling her name at the bottom of a card developed into a short paragraph, then two and in no time Sophie was writing entire thank-you letters to her teachers by herself. By high school, Christmas goodies emerged from the oven with her unique touch, as I hung around the kitchen with a coffee and watchful eye.

This week I watched Sophie write farewell letters to her teachers for the last time. In a few days she will begin her final year 12 exams and many of her beloved teachers and mentors will fade from her world. Words of appreciation and pretty cupcakes barely begin to express the bittersweet emotions and gratitude she is feeling. Like the closing credits in a movie, I watch again as the little girl who needed me to guide her hand over the page, pens her own words and puts finishing touches on gifts.

We do. We show. We guide... and then we watch, as our children step into the role of young adults. One by one our tasks diminish and our prayers increase as they make their own decisions and plans. We can even tuck ourselves into bed and drift off to sleep against the clatter of our little ones cleaning the kitchen after a baking session. They know to hang up the apron and switch the lights off when they're done... and if they need anything else, they can always wake us up.

Train up a child in the way is should go,
when she is old she will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6