It’s a little bittersweet when your child graduates from high school active-shooter drills. I know I should be happy she’s moving on to new challenges, adventures, and university-level massacre-prevention measures, but I can’t help but feel a little sad too.

Seems like only yesterday I was dropping her off for her first day of kindergarten. We were both so nervous, worrying about meeting her teachers, making new friends, and how quickly she would learn to stay alive in a high-risk shooting location.

“I liked it,” she told me later that day. “The teacher and classmates were nice, and we learned to hide under our desks during an assault-weapons strike.” I knew then that she’d be fine, and she proved it by surviving all six years of elementary school despite being under the constant threat of attack.

Before I knew it, she was going to middle school and then high school, wearing make-up, going on dates, and keeping track of escape routes.

A part of me wishes I could attend college with her, and witness all the changes she will go through. Which experiences will shape her? Which ideas will inspire her? Which kinds of metal detectors will screen her? It’s a journey of discovery, one she has to take without me. I understand there will be times when my influence takes a back seat to other people in her life, like her teachers, her peers, and armed campus security guards.

Yes, she will always be my “baby girl,” but I know I can’t treat her that way. Only four more years and she’ll be heading off into the real world. Just like that first day in kindergarten, I have to trust her to make her own decisions. She needs freedom to become the person she’ll be, someone equipped for the ups and downs of adulthood, who trusts herself, and knows how best to dive for cover or play dead when under gunfire.

And maybe, if I give her the room she needs now, she and her children will visit me often in my later years, and we can all cower together during a mall, supermarket, church, or music festival mass shooting and marvel at how far we have come.