By Judy Brandon
It is nearly time for school to be out. As this academic year ends, I look back over the school years of our children’s lives. I get a little nostalgic this time of year because our children are far beyond school age. Being a room mother, attending parent-teacher conference appointments, sponsoring field trips and buying the leftover candy for fund-raisers are all things of the past. That part of our lives, that took so much energy and effort, has passed.
I think back over the years and hope that those paths we took and those plans we made provided experiences that served our children well. Sometimes we never know if they did … we just hope and go on faith that what we did was best. In a way Annie, even without her knowing it, verified that some of those decisions and experiences were best. Her insights the other day dated back to some elementary years.
Nearly 20 years ago when Buffy was 5, she required speech therapy. We found that she could get therapy at Eastern New Mexico University. We were thrilled and our dealings with the staff in the speech center and the therapist proved to be very beneficial for Buffy.
In those days I was teaching public school. After school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would pick up the children from their school. Then I would hurry home, race around to get everything together and then head for Portales. Many times I got speeding tickets but I justified it because I felt like I was speeding for a good cause (I shouldn’t have been speeding). But I had to get Buffy there or she would not get the full appointment time.
Once in Portales, we checked into the speech clinic and then Annie and John Scott and I would start on their homework, which I insisted they bring. We sat on the grass under the trees on the ENMU campus if it was a nice day and worked on their homework together. When they didn’t have schoolwork, we went to the museum or the library on campus. Sometimes we explored the college campus, just sat on benches and watched people. We visited the bookstore. Sometimes we went grocery shopping in town or just drove around Portales. Through it all, we talked, shared stories of the day and visited about stuff in general.
When Buffy was finished, we would all be hungry so we would head for the Big Tee and get a hamburger. That was good conversation time. Some days, the children would take a friend. Some days my mother would go or a friend might go with us. We had the same routine. It was fun.
This went on for six years, two afternoons a week and every day but Saturday and Sunday in the summer. It did get old sometimes and many times I would not want to go to Portales. I knew that Annie and John Scott were still young and might not understand this extra effort and trouble, so I was determined to make it as exciting and pleasant for them as possible.
It came as pleasant surprise, then, when Annie said that those days driving to and spending time in Portales were some of the best experiences she could remember. She said that on “Portales days” she would sit in class and think about going that afternoon and all the fun we would have. She said that it made her day go faster and she would be excited just to think what was ahead.
I am sure all those hamburgers and French fries were not good for me especially … and I know the insurance rates suffered from my speeding tickets.
But what could have been burden and a drag turned into something joyful. I look back now and see those days and remember things we did and what could have been a dread for us turned into something exciting and uplifting.
The Bible doesn’t tell us that things will always go smoothly in our lives. We don’t have any assurance that our children won’t need speech, that they will be capable of making outstanding grades and the burdens of working out their academic experience won’t be frustrating. God promises up that He will give the increase if we do what we are supposed to do and leave the increase to him. I suppose that is what the Corinthians were dealing with when Paul wrote to them and said, “So it is neither he who plants nor he who waters is nothing, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Cor. 3:7)
This year we don’t have our children in school; we are far past the days of Portales and speech therapy. But as I look at Buffy and her ability to communicate, I think of all those years and I thank God for this increase in at least two areas: Buffy’s speech ability and our times together in Portales that brought us all closer together.
Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College.