Just yesterday I heard the tiny little voice of my baby girl burst out in hysterical and bubbly laughter, that laughter was coming from my little toddler daughter’s room, and soon she came bounding out of the room herself. Her giggles sounding like a thousand little silver bells as her bare feet slapped against our concrete floors. She beamed up at me as her golden curls formed a halo in the sunlight, “Dady, I pet my Fish!”
I shook myself and noticed that she was drenched (mostly her arms) and dripping on the floor. “Kiddo what?”
“Daaaaaddyyyyy,” she was already learning the overly patient tone she takes with me, “I pet my fish.” More giggles exploded out of her in such a rush that I was carried away in their current, and soon I was shaking with laughter also, “Well, ” I gasped between guffaws, “Did he like it?”
She squeezed her soaking arms together and stomped a foot, “Yes!” She had just gotten the fish as a reward for using the potty for the first time. Sure, the potty was on the back porch so that she could… well, go, “Outside, just like Lion King Daddy!” Her mother was a little mortified (but not as mortified as she’ll be when she reads this, it’s a dad’s job to embarrass his daughter though) but we had made a promise so we went and got her a fish, and, when you’re 2 (ish) and you get a new pet, you hug it and pet it.
I swear that was just yesterday but somehow last night about 13 years flashed by (I must have hit snooze) and today was her first day of high school. Whoa. Now, I’m an admittedly over protective dad (I get it from my mother, we didn’t have any corners or sharp objects in our house until I was about seven…teen and mom couldn’t watch my sister’s track meets because she was on the relay team and my mother couldn’t watch her run with sticks), and as overprotective as I am I was would obviously worry about her starting high school. Visions ran through my head of all the potential dangers of high school. What if someone is mean to her? What if she doesn’t meat a deadline? What if she gives her heart so someone who doesn’t deserve it? What if she gets a B? (I tell my kids that I never got a B all through high school, luckily they haven’t asked yet if I ever got an A)
Here’s the deal though, all of those things are going to happen. And in these times we have to trust our kids and trust that we’ve taught the right lessons and that our kids will be strong enough to take on bullies and broken hearts and even B’s. There is a greater trust though, one that is essential, and that is trust in God. As over protective as I am I offer my fear up to God and I trust that he will challenge us in ways where he needs us to be stronger, and in ways that will bring us together. My baby will go through things that I can’t fix or even understand, but she is tough and I trust God’s plan and love Him for being a protective Father that still knows we have to risk to live and grow.
So when my baby texted me this morning to say she was on her way, I prayed (well first I cried but then I prayed) that God would give her the strength and the wisdom to navigate her classes and classmates. I also said a little prayer that as she grows and matures, last week she told me that I have to learn to love myself before I can truly love someone else…. I’m workin’ on it kiddo, but I prayed that as she grows into a woman she keeps some of her whimsy and silliness and continues to be the kind of person who would still “pet the fish!”
When I’m feeling anxious and need to remind myself that God’s got it, I remember John 14:27- Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.