A Day for Backpacks

First Day of Kindergarten Last Year -- with a new backpack!

First Day of Kindergarten Last Year -- with a new backpack!

July 28, 2009 Don’t you hate when you wake up with that nagging feeling you’ve forgotten something important? Like that the physical therapist is coming at 8 and the cleaning people are coming at 8:45? Sounds great except that I didn’t get up until 7 and still had to tidy up the house, feed and dress both kids, tackle morning meds for Tanner and dress myself, and hopefully, brush my teeth (a shower was completely out of the question). Aghhhhh!

Rushing (it’s okay to put clean clothes back in the dryer to hide them, right?), rushing (did I give her the neurontin or not?), rushing (I don’t have to have contacts in for the P.T., right? Glasses are okay.). Whew! I managed to get it all done by 8 and then, the PT doesn’t show. She forgot to put it into her computer.

Now what do we do? It’s raining and we need to get out of the cleaning crew’s way, but we are so limited as to where we can go. So, I decide Target at 9 am is pretty safe as long as we wipe down the cart well and stay away from everyone else. We decide to get excited about school backpacks.

At first I thought that the best way of handling Tanner having to miss so many fun events was to not even let her know they were happening. We still use that strategy quite a bit, but I am realizing that she wants to be involved in whatever way she can. It makes her feel part of things even when she can’t be there. So, though Tanner won’t be going to school in the fall, we decided to go through yearly ritual of buying new backpacks and lunchboxes. It will give her a place to keep all her school materials that the homebound teacher will likely require. And, Jake will start his second year of Mom’s Day Out on August 27. He goes two-days-a-week and really loves it. So, everyone needed new stuff.

Target didn’t have what we wanted (I know, seems impossible, right?), so we headed to Toys R Us, with strict warnings that we would be heading directly to the backpacks and straight back out, without touching anything else or detouring at all. We left with a Hannah Montana backpack and lunchbox (shaped like a guitar!) for Tanner and a Scooby Doo lunchbox and Superman backpack, complete with a cape. for Jake.

After we got home, we got a call from the new pastor at our church. He and the Children’s Minister wanted to come by to see Tanner after lunch. We had a really nice visit, despite the fact that Tanner sprinkled both of them liberally with “pixie dust,” aka glitter.

We talked about happenings at the church and the pastor mentioned Kathy’s Backpacks, which is a really cool ministry of our church. We assemble hundreds of backpacks loaded with school supplies for kids in need and donate them to a local elementary school. He wondered whether Tanner could drop by and help for a little while and when I explained that would probably be too many people, insisted that we could make it work.

Within a couple of hours, I got an email from Rebecca, our children’s minister, inviting Tanner and three of her close friends from church to a special backpack packing session on Friday. No mention that it was because of Tanner’s limitations; it sounded more like an exclusive party invite. God Bless Bethlehem Methodist Church and those who worship and work there. With so little fanfare, they created an opportunity for my child, who feels like a charity herself, to give to others. Not to mention, the rare chance to get together with a small group of friends.

So, it was a day of backpacks. Backpacks that carry important things and backpacks that give important things to others. And, backpacks that will empower a little girl to be a giver instead of a receiver. Amen to that.


4 thoughts on “A Day for Backpacks

  1. What a wonderful ministry from your church. Not only are they ministering to the community by providing backpacks for those in need, but also ministering to one of their own by giving Tanner the opportunity for a “normal” experience with her friends.

  2. What a blessing! The everyday horrors of 2009 will (believe it or not) make for a lifetime of empathy and generosity for your kids. The grace with which you are handling this just amazing. Please let us know if we can be helpful in any way!!

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