The last 48 hours have been full of ups and downs. We got to see a new baby--definitely an UP! We lost a pot of flowers at Andrew's grave--a down. We found a heartwarming note and beautiful flowers that had been given in the spirit of love at Andrew's grave--another up. Reliving these emotions started me thinking of children--lost and found. We lost our child. Why he did what he did will never be revealed to us in this life. Taking care of Andrew's final resting place gives Bill and me peace. We both have regrets that we have to live with, but visiting and tending to his grave, everyday, helps us deal with our feelings. This is why we felt violated when we discovered Andrew's hanging pot was no longer there. We literally stared at the spot for a bit until we realized it was gone. Who would want a flower pot with no flowers? The deer and the heat had taken a toll on it, so we were lovingly trying to bring it back to its original beauty. Who would do this? In my mind I thought--a lost child. For some of you reading this, you are my sisters and brothers in loss. You know what it is like to bury a child. You know what it is like for people to look at you and say (or at least give you the look), "Get over it." You never get over it--you just learn to live through it. However, what about the parent who has lost a child, but he/she still lives? Some parents lose children in a variety of ways. Sometimes the loss is to drugs or alcohol. Sometimes the loss is to a mental illness. Sometimes the loss is to crime. Sometimes you don't know why, but you just have a child who no longer chooses to be in your life. In the Pullman-Moscow area this week three families lost sons. Those three families will deal with loss, albeit for different reasons. Lost children. In Luke, chapter 15, one can read about the return of the prodigal son. Prodigal was a Wordly Wise word in one of my classes this year. In my mind, prodigal meant one who returns home after an absence. But prodigal really means "spending money or resources freely; wasteful extravagant." I realized I forgot the first part of this story--Dad gives son his share of the inheritance and son goes and wastes it, then he returns home after everything is gone. The important part of the story is how the father treats the son when he returns home. The father welcomes him back. It's the old, "I may not like what you do or have done, but you are my son and I love you." That kind of unconditional love may be difficult for some, but at least you have the opportunity to embrace your lost child and welcome him or her home. Your lost child has been found. I hope you never lose a child--figuratively or literally. So as I begin to plan for the next school year I ask myself what can I do to help children feel a part--a part of something important? What can I do to make a child feel worth in this complicated world? What can I do to make a child see his/her genius? What I can I do to make a child feel valued? These are my goals. I want to change the mindset in my class--for my students and for me. I want to change my attitude towards the things I see as needing a change in my life. I want to change the downs to ups. I want to help my students find success and find a path for themselves. Let's all help kids find a way, even when they feel lost.