Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Newberry Award, a Pulitzer Prize? The Sky is the Limit for this Kid

The middle of June in New England can bring just about anything in terms of weather, and this particular night it is steamy and humid as the families of the eighth graders squeeze into the gymnasium for the graduation ceremony.  Truthfully, I had no idea what to expect having never been to such an event.  I figured certificates would be awarded, the teachers might talk about what an amazing group of students these kids were, and then they'd be off to enjoy their dance.  Well, those things did happen, but they also handed out awards, both academic and character based.  I watched a number of my daughter's friends receive much-deservedved awards, and it made my heart smile.  As the principal approached the podium to present her award, I had no idea the flood of emotions I was about to experience.

The Principal's Award goes to the student that embodies the academic and social values our school supports and promotes, not only here, but outside of school as well.  This is a student who has been a valuable asset to her school, her classmates, and her family during her career here, and it is my pleasure to present the award to ...

As my beautiful, talented and kind child walked from her seat to accept her award, I literally watched her transform from the pig-tailed little cherub to a confident young lady with every step.  Special moments danced in my mind, all the goals she has set for herself and achieved.  I have always known she was special, my family has always seen it, and now it was apparent that others see it as well.  Needless to say, I was a blubbering mess at what I thought would be a run-of-the-mill ceremony.

As my daughter gets older, and her personality and potential develop, I liken motherhood to waiting for the upcoming release of a much-anticipated movie starring a favorite actress.  She isn't a drama student; has no dreams of being on stage, though I imagine that if she set her mind to it, she could win a Tony or an Oscar...or both.  That is the kind of young lady she is becoming, full of ambition and already leaving a trail of successes behind her.  This kid has excelled in everything she has attempted, and she is just on the verge of true accomplishment as she enters the next phase of her life.  I often find myself watching her, or thinking about her, overwhelmed with gratitude that she is in my life. 

One of my favorite stories shared with me recently was told to be by a close friend who's known my daughter for several years now.  This friend is active in the schools in town and often finds herself walking the halls, encountering the children.  She pointed out to me that, while many will walk by her without a glance, my daughter always makes it a point to smile and say hello.  That anecdote simply defines who she is; A kind, genuine person who will say hello to adults and embrace fifth graders, without a care about who is watching or judging.  Though she is a popular kid, popularity does not matter to her.  When others have been mean to her, it is almost as if she cannot comprehend it, she has not a mean bone in her body.  Of all of her qualities, that is my favorite.  Of everything she is good at, this is the most important.

And what is she especially good at?  What does she want to pursue as a career?  She wants to write.  She envisions herself as a published and wildly popular author.  A lofty goal?  Yes, writing is not an easy field, but if anyone can make it happen, it is this girl, and when she wins her first Newberry Award or Pulitzer Prize, I'll be just as proud, and cry just as much as I did on that warm evening in June so many years ago.