She got a fresh haircut for school pictures. Yesterday, before sophomore orientation, I helped her straighten her wavy locks—the same ginger hair I used to wrestle into ponytails when she was small—and I beheld a young adult smiling back at me in the mirror.
Flash back to this post from a day the calendar says is so many years ago, yet I swear it feels like just last week in my heart. Back when kindergarten was “a big green ugly monster” and I fretted over handing my girl to the traditional school schedule, to a teacher who didn’t know how she liked her bologna sandwiches.
I feel the pangs of my fellow mommas whose littles are heading to school for the first time this year. I know how you worry. Will kids be kind on the playground? Will my child know how to navigate the hot lunch line? Will the teacher see my son, my daughter, this precious extension of my soul, and truly care about my beloved little one?
These were the questions in my heart a decade ago. And they’re the same questions I’m asking today—on a whole new level.
Because I blinked, and my kindergartener is in tenth grade.
High school? It really is an ugly monster. At least I knew that in kindergarten, nobody was likely to offer my daughter weed, or to drive home inebriated after a football game. Nobody was telling her she needed to decide on a career track or prep a year in advance for the ACT. There was no pressure to choose her gender or declare her status. Nobody was snapping and recording every second of her day—or threatening to post her least-lovely moments for all the world to see.
In kindergarten, kids could be kids, naughty though they may sometimes be.
In high school, kids aren’t just kids anymore. They’re beasts.
Not all of them, of course. And not all the time. Individually I’ve met dozens of amazing teens that are lit up for Jesus and courageously carving a path through the hallways and homecomings of this era.
Yet collectively, in today’s culture, high school is treacherous territory. And if I thought it was a heartache to release my baby into the pond of primary colors and picture books, then it’s a heart attack to entrust her to the depths of high school day after day.
So what gives, mommas? How do we cope?
Well, the same way we did back in kinder-days.
We trust God.
You know how we wish for our kids to be seen, to be known and understood? For teachers and classmates to embrace who our children are?
God does that, even if nobody else will.
He created our children; He knows every hair on their picture-prepped heads. He understands them intimately. He walks alongside them through every hall. And ultimately, He is the one who will determine their steps.
“The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23–24).
We have a lot of influence as parents, and responsibility, too. But growing up means giving up control, shifting our role, releasing our kids to make choices and even mistakes while we coach on the sidelines because that is how they’ll learn, forge character, and discover what it really means to depend on Jesus.
So. Is kindergarten a big green ugly monster? No, not really. Is high school? Maybe, yes. But God has a thing for slaying monsters. Therefore, I’m going to put my faith in His power—to protect and teach my kids, to guide our family, and to work out all the scary stuff for good in the end.
Will you do it, too?