It is not without some hesitation that I am sending my daughter to middle school today. Think of everything she could potentially be exposed to! I always tell her to “choose the right,” but when it comes down to it I prefer that choosing the right be the only option.
There are always a lot of things to worry about when you send your kids to school. But a few years ago I heard someone say, “Fear is the opposite of faith.” I had never thought of that before. I had always thought being afraid was just being realistic—prepared for the worst. This was a huge paradigm shift for me. It helped. Bad things still happen, but it really doesn’t do any good to expect and dwell on all the bad things that could happen, aside from taking practical safety precautions.
I’m less paranoid now. For my first ten years as a parent I thought being paranoid was just part of being a good parent. Maybe it is, but it’s a stressor, man.
In spite of all my concerns, my daughter is totally stoked about middle school. I started out nervous and worried for her sake about publicky issues and contraband but you know, I’m genuinely excited for her now. She’s not worried. It doesn’t scare her. She thinks her new freedom is awesome and lockers are cool. Lockers are cool. She is trying new things like Creative Writing and Dance Aerobics. It’s really great.
Every now and then the old fear creeps up … “She could see people making out today.” But, what am I going to do? If it happens, it happens. It’s not like I can keep her home for the next 20 years. I know some people do this, but I have a medical condition which prevents me from homeschooling: My kids get on my nerves. There’s no cure.
When my daughter first started kindergarten I felt the same way I feel now. I had another major parenting paradigm shift then when a smart friend told me, “You can’t prepare the path for the child so prepare the child for the path.” This is what I’m trying to do.
So far so good. She likes school. And to tell you the truth, I liked school too. Everything awful was eventually OK. One day I even got a whole bunch of candy bars and change out of a candy machine at school because it was broken. I kept them. It was magical. I don’t know why middle school gets such a bad rap. The fry sauce, as I recall, was also excellent.
So I’m approaching the new school year with faith and hope for the best. If I cut out the paranoid worrying, I’ll have more energy to deal with any real issues that pop up. Wish me luck! Good luck to you, too.