Over the past day, we've had a crisis in our home, a crisis of epic dimensions with which anyone with a school-aged child is familiar: our son lost his homework.
Now, this wasn't just any piece of homework. It was a book project in 12 sections. Our 10-year-old read a biography of Hank Aaron, not a kids' book, but a book for adults that he found on my husband Greg's bookshelves.
Over the past few weeks, I've guided him step by step through the project, setting up deadlines for this bear of an assignment to make sure he met today's deadline. And last night, as he was going to put the finishing touches on the project, he discovered he'd lost it. I knew, I just knew, there had to be a life lesson in this one. I told him so. But it took me a while to figure out what it was.
After our son discovered the project was missing from his school folder, all four of us searched our entire home for it without success. He was apopleptic. He was so upset with himself he could not finish the remaining pieces of the project, including putting a face on his bust of Hank Aaron, and copying over a small thesaurus he had written. He was so angry he could not study for today's history test. Off to bed he went, in tears and with our prayers following him up the stairs. Before Greg went to bed, he went into our son's room, gave him a big hug and told him how proud we are he works so hard in school. I prayed myself to sleep.
When I awoke at 6:30 this morning, our son was already awake and downstairs, putting the face on his Hank Aaron bust. (pictured above). He called upstairs and asked me to come downstairs as soon as I could to help him redo the thesaurus. When he finished, he asked me to prep him for the history test.
As I drove our son to school I told him I understood his frustration. I had lost important work myself. I told him rewriting the project would be easier than writing it the first time. "There is a life lesson in this," I told him. "What is it?' he asked. I was going to respond that perhaps next time he would figure out a way to keep track of his work better. But then I thought, making mistakes is an inevitable part of living. Surely that cannot be the life lesson.
As I pulled up to the school, I realized what I needed to say. "The life lesson is that God will take care of you, no matter what happens." "Okay," he said, nodding.
I watched our son walking through the school yard, his massive backpack hanging from his small frame. I imagined an angel walking beside him. I remembered how I learned as a child that each of us has a guardian angel.. I used to pray to mine before I went to sleep each night. As our catechism teaches: "From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their (the angels) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united to God."
I've never told our son about his angel, or how to pray to him. Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom God's love commits me here, Ever this day, be at my side, To light and guard, Rule and guide. Amen.
I could tell you whether our son found the project at school in his desk or locker or if I found it under a sofa at home. I could tell you whether the due date he cited was the actual one, or whether the project was already overdue or not due until next week. But none of that would be the point. I have come to believe that our son lost his project so that God could introduce him to His angels.