Yesterday, my 12 year old daughter attended her ‘yearend’ celebration to mark an important milestone – the end of elementary school and transition into junior high school. Over the next few years, she will try to establish herself and find her path as she bumps and jostles her way through her teen years into young adulthood.
As I stood looking at all of the young girls and boys I saw the notable division as all of the boys standing on the left of the patio, pushing, fidgeting and laughing and the girls all standing on the right, giggling, preening and posing for the parents flashing cameras. The girls were all adorned in pretty dresses; hair fashioned in curls, tied up or flat-ironed in perfect place; faces tastefully painted and teetering on heels. The boys were wearing clean clothes.
The kids all moved through the doors, into their banquet room and I realized that everything was changing in that moment. My baby has become a young lady. I was proud, happy, and a little frightened too.
Have I given her enough tools to make the right choices, to connect with others who will respect her and cherish her, to deal with the stresses of adolescence and to pursue health relationships?
Does she know and understand how important it is to make healthy choices in her life now – eating the right things, exercise, sleep, hygiene, and avoiding toxins like drugs, alcohol and smoking? I know she will be tempted by peers – is she strong enough to follow her own path and dance to her own drummer?
Time will tell. I must now stand and watch – guide when I can – support her – and be ready to catch her if she slips.
I guess this is a milestone for me too.