I present you with the light of life - my son. He just completed those three very defining years in a child's life called Junior High School. It was a time of transition, challenges, learning experiences and opportunities to grow. He made many new friends while remaining loyal to old ones, bonded with school staff members, liked a few girls and developed a social life. Keeping up with grades, moving around to different classes daily, staying organized with work and communicating with individual teachers were all things my son was taught to do to prepare him for the world of High School. Was it always perfect? Absolutely not. Did he forget assignments? More so than I care to admit. Did he cram for tests? You bet. Were there new terms and words he picked up from his social environment that would make a parent cringe? Many. He got all the experiences that make being this age a time of learning, reflection and growth. It was the introduction to the real world - A place that is not as forgiving. And as many times as I've wanted to blow the whistle, make sense of everything, push him harder and practically sit next to him in class to micro-manage his every academic move, I learned that I needed to let things go, pick my battles and trust that my son will make the right choices. He can only make those choices if he is given the space to do so. Trusting your child and letting them know you believe in them goes a long way in the end. I guided him through the pangs of having to grow up, talked him through tough times, hugged him when he needed it, pushed him where it mattered and offered a few moments of tough love. My son is very vocal, has his own opinions and does not hide the way he feels. Not always easy to hear but I'm proud that he feels confident to articulate his feelings. And may I add, he has the beautiful ability to express emotion without being emotional, and speaks with maturity. A trait I hope he carries into manhood. He and I have had many candid conversations and I feel fortunate that we have that kind of relationship. Of course there are things he rather share with his father and friends, and I'm OK with that too. As long as he knows he's loved and has a circle of support around him, that's all that matters. Congratulations to you, my son. I love you more than you will ever know. You're going to have an amazing time in High School and I'm there for you whenever you need me (and when you think you don't!).