My family will soon celebrate the end of an era for our youngest daughter. Molly and her classmates will walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, marking the end of preschool and the beginning of their elementary years.
Some preschools even dress graduates in miniature caps and gowns. Ours does not, but Molly will wear her Sunday best and there will be refreshments after the ceremony. All in all, it’s a pretty big deal.
It’s also the kind of thing I wouldn’t have thought much about before we became parents. I might have even joined in my generation’s tendency to downplay small achievements in what I’ve always thought was a reaction against the “participation trophy” parents that raised us.
(Full disclosure: as a child who wouldn’t have won any trophies for actual athletic achievement, I remain in full support of these.)
Most of the time, an accomplishment or milestone needs to have obvious import for the future before we give it much mind. In our world, small seasons don’t get much recognition. But as my family prepares to celebrate the end of one, I’m giving them new consideration.
Summer is a relatively small season in our families and churches. It’s 8-10 weeks dotted with new activities and more relaxed schedules, but it also brings a “blink and you’ll miss it” energy. Summer’s impact, though, can be huge. Consider the millions of children who will attend Vacation Bible School this year. Lifeway estimates one week of VBS equals seven months of ministry to children and families. They also report 69% of parents will encourage their kids to attend VBS at a church they don’t go to, if they’re invited by a friend.
VBS isn’t the only way to lend big impact to our upcoming small season. Consider how looser schedules and fewer demands on our time might open up opportunities for new groups or classes. Summer offers families and churches more chances to engage our neighbors, to introduce ourselves for the first time or the first time in a while.
This small season is a big deal.
At the end of it, I hope to be able to look back and see that I often leaned into the opportunities it gave our family to engage with the people around us. I want to hold my participation trophy high in the air, better prepared by this small season for the next one.
Meredith Day Flynn is a wife and mother of two living in Springfield. She writes on the intersection of faith, family, and current culture.