I love the first day of school.
It’s like the first day of a new year…..time to kick back in gear, settle into routines. New pencils. New paper. New notebooks.
Yesterday morning was fun. My crew was up early, chattering away (Today is day two and, yeah, not much chattering this morning). We ate some toast together, prayed together, and out the door they went. I watched them pull out of the driveway, and then I started my morning walk.
It was quite foggy and not so hot when I started out. I was trucking along at a fairly good clip. Mostly thinking, some praying for my crew.
I took a cul-de-sac twice, and then turned onto the street to lead me back to the main road, and that’s when I saw them.
You see, I’ve been watching the dad and his daughter in this picture now for at least 1.5 years. Maybe closer to two.
That probably sounds creepy. I certainly don’t mean it to be. It’s just been, I don’t know, settling to watch. Hard, yes. Hurts, yes. But settling as well. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
Each morning, this dad walks his girl to her bus stop. And their dog. Every. Single. Morning. It’s a short walk from their house to the stop. They don’t rush, they go kind of slow. Sometimes I’ve seen them talking and sometimes they don’t talk at all. I’ve seen them laugh. Hug each other goodbye. I’ve heard the dad remind his girl about some chore or another.
And then the dad goes back home, puts the dog in the house, and leaves for work.
I actually had forgotten about them until I turned the corner yesterday. And there they were again. On the first day of school.
And it nearly wrecked me in that moment. For so, so many reasons.
So this is what I want to say, to each and every dad out there:
Love your girls well.
Dads, they need you. They need you to know what is going on in their lives. And the only way they are going to feel comfortable telling you what is going on in their lives is if you place yourself into their world. By spending time with them. Walking to bus stops. Going to Barnes and Noble to wander around the store. Going to Starbucks.
Don’t let them do 12 years old alone. Don’t let them do 13, or 15, or 17, or 19 alone. Or anything in between.
They need you to be aware. To be protective.
They need to know that you are a safe place. Not a harmful one. Not a dangerous one. Not an indifferent one. Not an inconsistent one.
They need you to see and know.
They need you to pray for them.
Does this apply to your relationship with your boys? Absolutely, and yet….
…and yet there is something about a Father and his girl.
I don’t know the spiritual or theological implications of it all. I assume there are some. Digging deeper into that, though, cuts too close to some raw places. It is enough, for me at least, to know that they are there, without staring directly at those implications. But I can glance at them sideways.
What I do know is this:
I ache for my girls, who have missed out on this. And, I ache for other, difficult reasons as well. So much so, that it is challenging to see clearly enough to write this, because–my soul. However……
…..However, there is tremendous, tremendous, tremendous comfort in knowing that God is father, too. He is aware. Protective. A Safe Place. Not indifferent. He will not hurt. He will not ignore. He sees and knows. And Jesus intercedes for us. Jesus prays for us. That is beyond comprehension.
And that is why seeing this dad walk his girl to the bus each morning is settling. Hard, but settling. Because it is a shadow–an echo, if you would–of what being God’s daughter looks like. And will look like.
But that doesn’t take the ache away from having a dad to walk you to the bus stop, or take you to Starbucks, or make a really dumb dad joke, or get aggravated with you for losing the car keys, or interrogate your boyfriend, or beam with pride when you reach an accomplishment, or simply tell you that they are praying for you.
It doesn’t, but it does lessen it.
Dads. Walk your girl to the bus stop.
Love her well.