I’ve spent more time on elementary school grounds in the past week than I have in the past twenty years. Our grandkids have both started school and we get to be a part of their “first week” experience.

Today as Austyn held tightly to Liam’s hand, leading him to Room # 2 which was decorated with owls, Emery and I followed quite a bit behind. If you ever have the privilege of walking hand in hand with Emery, you will quickly realize that she is all about stopping to watch an ant, chase the birds, get a drink, and run down the ramps.

The space between Mom and us grew allowing for a group of children emerging from a classroom to force us to stop. Each student was clutching their math book like it was a teddy bear. We stood and watched their parade. I watched as the teacher emerged, assuming she must be the last and it would be safe for Emery and I to continue.

A few seconds later, a girl burst out of the room, spun on her heels, and skipped down the sidewalk in the opposite direction. I couldn’t help but notice her expression of delight that radiated in the sunshine. Her eyes fixed on the sky. I wanted to hear the music that was most certainly playing in her head.

“Olivia,” I heard the teacher say almost in anticipation of Olivia’s choice of direction. As if the first week of school had already taught her that Olivia would need be guided. “This way,” she instructed. Without pause, Olivia spun around and began to skip down the sidewalk in search of her classmates – still looking up.

I love Olivia. She makes me smile.

I pray that as Olivia grows older, she never looses the courage to be the last one out the door. That she’s not afraid to turn left when everyone else is going right. I hope  she never stops looking up allowing the sun to reflect off her smile. And that she is blessed with teachers who gently guide her.

When the sidewalk was once again safe for travel, I glanced down at my little partner. She had her back to me and was pointing to the sky.

“Neenee, look at the birds.”

“Their beautiful,” I said squeezing her hand. “Come on, Sweetie, we need to go this way,”

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