As the school year begins, I have been thinking about my childhood a lot. I actually have a friend who I have had since I was 5 and a neighbor that became family when I was in 4th grade. Since then, I have gathered a great group that have made me who I am today. My “oldest” friends are the ones who know a little piece of me that no one else knows does. They have been there since the beginning.
As the school year begins I think about how my children are starting their “beginning.” When they go to school they hopefully will find forever friends like I did. All too soon they will be listening to those friends more than they listen to me and that terrifies me. Other influences will guide them through school, sports, nights out, big dances, academics and everywhere in between.
These are the people that they will laugh, cry, and grow with. They will think that the world has ended with a break up and think that missing a party will ruin their lives forever. They will lie to me, hide things from me, and grow in a blink of an eye. I just pray that we have raised them well and that their choices in friends have had the same.
They are growing up in a world that is filled with so many more challenges than I ever had to face. I think we are the first generation to say, it was easier when we grew up. Social media didn’t run our lives. Our bullies said it to our faces. As cruel as it was, it wasn’t the massive amounts of people who can hide behind a screen to say words that crush someone’s soul.
Our football players fought with their fists. Now they fight with guns. I wasn’t fearful for my safety. Columbine shook our lives with the unheard of massacre of many. Now it’s a part of life that you can’t fly, go to school, the movies, work or a playground without being on high alert.
We didn’t sit at home searching the internet. We were out riding our bikes and playing endless hours of baseball. My neighbors watched me and an army of adults were in contact with my parents. I was held accountable for my actions by everyone.
If I got in trouble at school, I would be sure to hear about it when I came home. Being a former teacher, my student’s parents would blame me for their child’s actions. They had little follow through with accountability thus raising an entitled generation with little remorse. I trusted the teachers and coaches that I spent countless hours with to strengthen me and make me a better person. Are teachers even allowed to do that anymore, or do they just hand them standardized tests?
The only person taking pictures of me was taken by my mom to be put into a family album, not spread on the internet for the world to see. I grew up with privacy and felt safe. I have happy, happy memories of my adolescence but remember it not being easy.
My children’s lives will not just be uneasy, it will hands down to hard. And as a mom I’m so worried about it all. Right now their tiny hands fit in mine when we cross the street and I pick their play dates.
Some day they will be embarrassed of me and go places that I’m not sure exactly what that they are doing. At that point I will rely on the way that we have raised them and their forever friends that they have chosen.
My babies will always be my babies and they will be thrown into a grown up world well before they will be ready. As my daughter stands before me in her princess dress I can practically see it as a homecoming dress. I can only hope she wants a beautiful ball gown that makes her glow from the inside out instead of a skimpy dress that she feels appropriate in this overly sexualized world.
As my son runs around in his super hero shirt, I pray he will be safe and this world won’t need saving. He thinks he can fly and has super strength. He already has made everyone’s lives better that knows him. I just hope his ambition and spirit never fades.
I see their innocent smiles and I just want to freeze these moments in time so I never have to see them cry. I just want to hold them and keep them with me forever. But I know I can’t do this. I want and need them to find those forever friends to be something that I can’t.
I need my daughter to understand that although boys are great, every girl needs really good friends. Men try their best to figure us out, but friends don’t need to. They just get it!
Their friends will get them through things that really matter when they really matter. I want them to accumulate all of the wonderful memories that I had and continue to have with my friends that I love so much.
I don’t feel old enough to say that I have friendships over 20 years but I do. I’m not sad about my age. I am proud that I have achieved so much and created so many important relationships during this time. I’m so happy that I am secure, confident, loved and stable in so many ways.
I no longer have people in my life that are unimportant and as a girl it takes a long time to be happy with yourself and I am. Life can be so hard yet so wonderful. I can just pray that my children find people to get through the hard parts of life that I can’t be there for and make the wonderful memories all that sweeter.
May they grow to be happy and healthy. May they find forever friends who guide them to make good choices and as they guide others. May they laugh and value people for who they are inside. May they teach others while they learn so many lessons. And please God, may they be safe! As they leave my nest of safety I trust you will watch over them and that the good people of this world will do the same.