My kiddos are relatively new to movie-watching, and they're not yet used to the fact that most movies contain some scary parts. When we are watching something and the sky begins to darken or the music moves into a minor key, the air ominous and foreboding, the girls inevitably shriek, "Turn it off" or "I wanna skip the skeery parts!" I understand it -- there's plenty of terror even in G-rated movies (Dumbo's separation from his mother, Gaston's blood-seeking raid on the Beast's castle, Ariel and Eric's battle with Ursula), and the softie in me who wants my children never to encounter an ounce of pain or worry wants to comply. But what I say back to them is: "Instead of skipping the scary parts, let's try our best to be brave." There's still a lot of clinging and head-burying and protesting at the villain, but we always make it through to the reliably happy ending. As I've been bracing myself for the return to the semester -- and an undertaking of a public project -- I catch myself tensing up at the thought of all that lie ahead. The unknowns. The inevitable snags. The missteps that will give me near heart attacks when I make them. The growing pains. I find myself hoping for smooth sailing and not an ounce of obstacle -- or wishing to fast forward to the end point when it is all done, and I've arrived at a (hopefully) happy ending of my own. It only occurred to me last night that this is my own grown-up version of my daughters' request: I want to skip the scary parts. It has never not been terrifying to me to know that something physical has to come into existence that is only an idea. I fret. I avoid. I panic. The process is never painless and never without obstacle. And I think that I usually make it through to the other side only by whimpering all the way (only metaphorically, of course -- if any actual whimpering occurs, it is only temporary and confined to my living room sofa). I would like to take a different approach this semester: taking my own advice and trying my best to be brave. Knowing that there will be trials. Knowing that there will be piles of stress. Knowing that there may be nail-biting and letdowns and even disappointment. Knowing that all those things are simply part of the process -- and still believing that I will survive them and ultimately be okay. So here's hoping I can muster the requisite courage -- and fingers crossed that the ending, if not reliably happy, won't be half bad.