I still feel like a terrible mother, sending my little lamb off to be slaughtered every morning when I take her to school (all the while trying to encourage her that "If it must be done, then do it with style, hold your head high and rock it!"). I keep waffling between wanting to teach her to "bear it with fortitude" and wanting to protect her from the unpleasantries of life.
The fact is, however, that life IS unpleasant at times - unjust, even - and I would be doing my daughter a greater disservice by protecting her from every distasteful situation rather than teaching her to work through those difficulties. To be even more vulnerable, I sometimes wonder if we Americans are overprotective of our children. After all, you can't learn conflict resolution skills without a conflict. You can't learn perseverance without some sort of difficulty. And you can't learn forgiveness and grace unless you have been wronged or treated unjustly.
Have you ever thought about what makes the inspirational people of the world so inspirational? Why do we love Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, or Viktor Frankl (just to name a few)? Is it not for characteristics like humility, generosity, overcoming, forgiveness, and compassion? Those characteristics, perhaps, cannot be learned except through hardship.
If what I have said is true, then this Grade 8 initiation becomes a launching pad for some incredible lessons and values to emerge. It's not fun - and it's quite painful - but isn't that how growing goes?