By Guest Blogger Tara Pitts

As the end of the weekend starts to roll around, many people experience something called the Sunday Scaries. It’s the ultimate realization that the relaxation and break of the weekend is coming to an end and all of the pressures and worries of life such as work, school, bills, appointments, etc., are waiting to usher us into another week. This fall I’ve noticed how our firstborn is experiencing something similar, only on a more broad scale. She and all her peers are winding down their high school experience and preparing for the next step. After the last several weeks of highs and lows, I think we are officially experiencing the Senior Scaries.

All of their lives, there has been an easy next step for kids, from preschool to elementary, then middle and high school. Usually these schools have been predestined for them by where they live or by their parents. However, for seniors, with high school coming to a close, the next step is considerably more unsure. It’s both exciting and terrifying. The questions are endless: which college to attend, whether to take a gap year, would working be better? The ground is suddenly shifting and the comfortable, safe space of home and group of well-known friends is beginning to feel as if it is evaporating. The letting go process has begun for both teens and their parents.

The pandemic hasn’t helped. Instead it has amplified the fears and worries of the future ahead for many seniors as they consider how they fared during high school with grades and extracurriculars during virtual learning. Many students fell behind and are now questioning admittance to a school that once seemed a sure thing. Athletic students who struggled to find a way to practice and participate in their sports are hoping they have what they need to get the sports scholarships they were counting on.

Not many of us can live comfortably with the unknown, and yet this is what the Senior year is for most. One foot still enjoying the end of high school with the cocky assurance that comes with being a senior, and the other poised for the next step, not knowing where or how it will be. As a parent, I’ve watched and heard my child act very responsibly and maturely and in the same week, wondered if any of my parenting has been effective in the slightest. They are caught between the fun of high school with its football games, romances, pranks and scrapes and the adult world that is looming with freedoms and responsibilities. Next year, the safe familiarity of parental boundaries will be lifted. As much as kids long for that day because they are done with curfews and grounding, there is also a small part of them that craves and likes these boundaries because they know that someone is watching out for them.

I’ve realized that the best thing I can do as a parent right now is to give my senior grace as she works through these emotions and moves through the decision making process. It is all “figure-outable,” no matter what comes up. The college applications will be turned in one way or another. The plan for next year will slowly be revealed in the coming months. With each passing week, I will have to let go just a little more and let my daughter step out on her own. I need to guide her, advise her and listen. Above all, I just have to trust that we have prepared her the best we can for what’s to come.

I also hope I can encourage her to enjoy this process, as scary as it seems. This year is full of so many fun events and opportunities for memories that will last forever. I don’t want the prospect of not knowing what’s going to happen to keep her from the joys of now.

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