He looked up with big 2-year-old eyes wanting to have an adventure…but scared how it might end. So I ducked my head down and scrunched my knees up so we could ride the giant tube slide together. From that day on, he jumped into every tube slide and popped up at the end with a laugh.
Now my kid is 11 and becoming a middle schooler. MID.DLE.SCHOOL. Wasn’t he just yesterday memorizing the characters from the Cars movie? And telling me this situation was “just like my favorite word … o-c-q-u-a-r-d.”
But here he is, ready to step through doors of our church youth group. WITH.OUT.ME. And if I did metaphorically duck my head and scrunch my knees so I could experience this milestone with him, he would be so quick to whisper this situation was again “just like my favorite word … awkward.”
So I won’t. Instead I’ll pull out the smile I’ve honed for milestones: a flash frozen smile that masks the apprehension and acts as a gate for my tears until I turn around.
It’s these milestones that indicate the end of a childhood phase that have always been the hardest for me—the transition from baby to toddler, toddler to kid, and now kid to adolescent. Leading up to it I always worry and process all the ways it could be hard, and with every one, he simply pops up at the end with skills and confidence to be more of the individual he is created to be.
I know in my heart youth group is an opportunity to grab hold of his own faith with both hands. So I’m going to flash my frozen smile, refrain from doing anything embarrassing, and watch him slide.
My new middle schooler and I made a video about his move to our church’s youth group. We’re in an interim time and decided to capture the answers to our biggest questions. Too bad we couldn’t get a guest appearance by Chris Pratt.