The passage of one stage to another, this is the definition of a transition. Parenting is full of transitions, which means parenting is full of challenges. While transitions are challenging, they are also needed and beautiful. Allow me to use music to explain.
Music is such a joy to our lives. It can lift our spirits, motivate us, and unite us. However, not all music is lovely. Have you ever had the horror, I mean pleasure, of riding the It’s a Small World ride at Disney World? Those of you who have been there are now hating me for putting that song in your head. And, why is that? Because it repeats itself over and over and over again. While the concept of the song might be fun, the repetition is enough to drive a parent past the point of no return. That song needs transitions. The same is true of our children. Can you imagine if your child never grew up? What if you had a perpetual infant for the rest of your life? We find that idea ridiculous, yet at other stages of our child’s life, we tend to shy away from the passage into another stage. However, we need – they need – that passage. Without the transition, there is no growth. Without the transition, there is no change. Without the transition, you will be left singing, “It’s a small world after all” approximately 439,323 times!
Transitions, like music, are a needed part of our lives. But transitions in life, just like transitions in music, are challenging. I have spent the past 10 months writing music for a play. The hardest part of writing the music usually is not the beginning, middle, or end. The hardest part is figuring out how to seamlessly pass from one part of the song to another. The writing process for the transitions in music is not very pretty. It often sounds strange, looks and feels unnatural, and just is not quite right. It has to happen, so as not to be stuck with an it’s-a-small-world-type of song, but figuring it out takes patience, perseverance, and effort. The same is true of parenting our children through their transitions. Guiding your child through a transition will take patience from both you and the child, as both of you are quite uncertain as to what is happening. It will take perseverance from both you and your child, as it is not an easy, breezy, one afternoon kind of event. And, it will take effort. Oh, yeah, that thing. Here is the deal with effort. Whatever you put into it, is what you will get out of it. Parenting and transitioning are going to happen whether or not you try to parent or transition; just as music will continue to play, whether it transitions or not. The difference between effort and no effort is “It’s a Small World” or a Beethoven symphony.
We know transitions must happen, and we know transitions are challenging, but here is the secret you may not know…they are also beautiful. Do you realize that as you struggle to help your 8-year-old begin to transition into his middle years, that you will see something beautiful on the other side? That 8-year-old, who you are certain will never think of someone else’s need, will most likely start to consider the needs of others as he approaches the teen years. I know you do not believe me, but it is true. Then, that teen, who has worn you out emotionally, will eventually become an adult and one of your dearest friends. The passage from one stage to another has written more than just a catchy chorus. It has become a beautiful sonata.
The in-between parts of a song are my favorite parts, because they are different than the rest of the song. They bring a richness and a beauty that grows the song into something unique and engaging. The transitions in a song are what make it beautiful to listen to. The same is true of your children. Do not avoid a transition. Embrace the challenge of a transition. Put forth effort to get through the transition and your small world will become “What a Wonderful World” instead.