‘It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again.’
So sang our Jemima and friends at her primary school leavers’ service. They turned in the pews to face the mums and dads, and tears were shed from both sides. On Saturday night they sang it at the close of their school disco, grouped in a circle and swaying in time, arms draped around each other.
Yet I’m not sad. For ‘come a long way’ we have since those four-year-old days, and life with my kids just gets better. We talk about deep things now, usually at their request. We enjoy longer walks, they introduce me to new music, deal with my technology problems and bake me amazing cakes. We’ve nurtured badgers together, and a host of other smaller creatures. More than this, in all of them I’ve seen courage as they’ve battled with things and grown. I’m proud of who they are. I love it when they display accomplishments greater than my own and I celebrate the ongoing relationship I have with each of them. It would be dull if they stayed at primary school forever and I’m ready to support them in new challenges, and to learn from them too.
True, Jemima and friends have been together for some very significant years. They will no doubt miss seeing each other every day. But their experience of the world is about to get bigger, and their eyes and hearts and minds will widen as they rise to meet what life brings. And of this I am certain: God is alongside my kids, even when I can’t be, and he’s not going to let them down. If leaving primary causes Jem to fear just a little, to lean into God a bit more, to take bolder, more sure steps of faith then bring it on. God is moving us into a new phase and whatever it contains, he will be sufficient to hold us and lead us through.