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Monday, August 31, 2009

Holding Caden's Hand

My little man! I know you have no idea how Daddy was feeling today. But I have to say, as we walked across the parking lot, it felt so good having your hand in mine as we walked toward the door together. I couldn't help but wonder how much longer you'll be ok with your Daddy holding your hand in public.

As we made our way down the long crowded hallway full of other mommies and daddies with their little ones, you were walking in front of me, and I had my hand on your back, directing you to your classroom. I realize now just how appropriate that was. You walking out front now, me behind you, giving you guidance to where you needed to go. You were a bit hesitant as you walked, but more than anything, son, there was a palpable sense of excitement in you.

I got you settled into your seat and we stowed away your new backpack (loaded with school supplies) and your new Star Wars lunch box. You sat down at your desk. I leaned down to give you a hug and told you that I loved you. And it was clear what had to come next: It was time for me to leave you.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, Caden – whether you’d be nervous and a bit clingy or not...

You weren’t.

And daddy wasn’t so prepared for that. I guess a part of me wanted you to not be ok with me leaving. Because in some ways, Daddy wants you to stay my little guy and not grow up.

That's pretty silly, isn't it Caden? We teach you to be independent, and remind you to be strong and brave and to trust God and that there's no reason to cry. And today, you did just that. You were strong. You were brave. You trusted God. You didn't cry.

But guess what, buddy? I did. At least I made it back to the car before I started.

I am crying still as I write this, Caden. Not because I'm scared for you -but because you're growing up and becoming just who you're supposed to be. You're really doing it! You’re moving on into the future God has for you. It’s wonderful but different to realize that you still need us, but not the same way you did when you were really little! You can do SO much on your own now!

Son, how you handled this moment in your life made me unbelievably proud. But a little sad too.

Proud because I realize this is a new chapter for you, Caden. I know that you're ready for this. Ready to move on and learn what it means to forge your own path, without Mommy and Daddy right beside you.

Sad because whenever a new chapter opens, it means the old one is closing. And that brings with it an element of pain. It's hard for mommy & daddy when we realize just how much you’ve grown, and how quickly it’s come upon us.

The Bible teaches us to "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he's older he won't depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

That truth becomes more evident in your life every day. It was obvious when we were driving to school this morning and I prayed for your day - for God to guide, protect, and use you. And when I was done, you said you wanted to pray too. You prayed by faith for all the new friends God was going to give you. And amazingly, you even thought to pray that God would bring your daddy a new job today. Wow! That shows character, Caden. You were moving into a new and (somewhat) scary adventure, but in the middle of all that, you thought not only of yourself, but even to pray for your daddy. I wasn’t expecting that.

Caden, your daddy is SO incredibly proud of the little man you’re becoming. I want you to always know that!
Did you know just how ready you were for this new adventure? I suspect you've sensed it for a while but today it really hit me:

Even though Mommy and I don't feel completely ready to let our little guy go out into the world, you are ready!

You’re going to learn some great things, Caden, but you'll also encounter some of the evil in this world. We'll do our best to shield you from it, but we won't be able to forever. Right now you’re innocent and have a genuinely sweet spirit - you love others and it shows. It's part of what makes you who you are, and something we don’t ever want to change.

Mommy and I pray you would continue with your strong, simple faith in Jesus, even as you encounter the tough truth that sometimes people will be cruel and will hurt you.
We trust in our gracious God to not throw things at you too quickly. And to give you (and us) the grace to handle whatever comes your way. And we’ll take everything – the good and the bad – one day at a time.

You are an amazing boy, Caden, and God has incredible plans for your life. Mommy & I will always love you unconditionally–no matter what!

When you make great choices, we’ll be proud of who you are and we’ll love you. And when you
make poor choices, we’ll still be proud of who you are and we’ll love you.

Nothing you do can ever change how we love you – Jesus loves us with unending love and that’s the way we will love you. We promise.

It’s funny - you were here at home with me, being my sidekick, for the last three weeks before your new school started. Some days you got on my nerves a bit and made it tough to focus on getting work done. But this morning, you're not here and the house feels empty. I'm missing you already, and part of me is wishing you were still here, with your silly wild screaming, your Game-Boy playing, and your way-too-much-Star-Wars-watching!
But you can't be here, of course. You need to be exactly where you are - out there, growing up. I know you're going to have a great day full of surprises, find a plethora of new friends ready to be made, and learn many new things.
Still right now I can't help feeling that pickup time at 4:00 feels an eternity away. Caden, know that when that time comes, I'll be right there waiting when you come out. I can’t wait to hear every last detail of how your day went and all the new experiences you had today. I know you won’t be stingy with the details! (Like father, like son!)

But just a warning for ya, buddy – when I get there and walk you back to the car, whether you want me to or not, your daddy’s gonna hold your hand!


  1. I absolutely ADORE this, Carl!! How special for you to write this for Caden and for the rest of us too! Totally understand and relate with all your feelings and thoughts.

  2. Perfect! Brought back so many memories of how I felt when my boys were that age. I watched my oldest run in high school cross country this afternoon. Still feeling those feelings but enjoying every minute!

    Will let you know how it goes with our 2-year old in a few years. Lol!