The Lion Who Needed College

close up photo of lion s head

Photo by Alexas Fotos on

Courage looks different depending on where you’re standing. Sometimes you’re the one in need of a little bravery to take the next step. Other times, you’re standing on the outside looking in, wishing you could magically transfer just enough courage to support someone who needs a boost.

What does courage actually look like?

When my teenagers were little ones, a rainy day took on a form of bravery all its own. My go to rainy day activity was an old movie I loved to watch when I was their age – The Wizard of Oz – I would pop it into an antique contraption called a VCR (Video Cassette Recorder). Just typing that makes me feel old! I would make popcorn, grab some throw blankets, and we would huddle together on the couch.

During one such viewing, I asked the kids if they could choose a favorite character who would it be? At that young age, my daughter loved animals more than people (not much has changed in that department). Toto, the Cairn Terrier, stole her heart from the opening credits. She was more emotionally invested in the four legged furry actress than any other on the journey to see the Wizard of Oz. Naturally, her choice was Toto for the win!

However, her younger brother wasted no time in declaring another animal was his favorite. The Lion was his choice, hands down.

What makes the Lion your favorite character?

I want him to make it to the meet the wizard because he needs college.


Yeah! The Tin Man needs a heart. The Scarecrow needs a brain. The Lion needs college! 

For those not familiar with the movie, what the lion needed was courage.

Through the years, our family has laughed at that sweet memory. It came to mind more than once this summer as we logged some serious mileage on college tours with my daughter. Her requirements: A small school no further than a five hour radius. Reasonable enough, except for the fact that we currently live in the midst of approximately thirty schools. Each road trip brought with it fears, anxiety, pride, love, and faith to name a few emotions. As we discussed plans for her future, her hopes, and her dreams, it felt more like the world’s biggest rollercoaster and less like a Hyundai Sante Fe.

Some trips seemed quicker than others once I got caught up in sharing stories of my own college days, what my dreams were back then, how her dad and I met, and what courses were my favorite. It took me back to summer trips with my dad behind the wheel, and my mom on endless snack duty. Laughter, long talks, and family stories filled the car as memories were created while history was passed on from one generation to the next.

As exhausting as it was to spend the summer of 2019 in the car, I’m grateful for the time it granted us, without distraction, to connect on a deeper level. I hope she carries this summer’s memories with her as she travels on her own life journey. I know I will hold those moments for years to come, and pray that the life she makes for herself is filled with as much love as mine.

She walked into high school last week equipped with the necessary tools to get through her senior year. She’s way ahead of the game too, having already been accepted to her favorite school on the college tour. As I watched her walk in with friends, her floral turquoise backpack contradicting the mature young lady carrying it, I couldn’t help but think my little guy may have been onto something all those years ago.

College and courage may not be interchangeable, but they certainly go hand in hand for both student and parent.


2 thoughts on “The Lion Who Needed College

  1. We give our children two things–roots and wings. I think it’s more difficult for us to see them use their wings and begin to fly.


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