It comes more naturally for me to critique Girlie (for new readers, this is how I refer to my 12 year old daughter online) than to extol her unique gifts. Knowing this, I try to keep things in balance. To see her realistically as she is, but also to look beyond the typical “measures” of achievement.
She shuns external motivation of virtually all types. If you’re a parent, coach or educator and have experienced this in a child, you know it is Not. Easy.
As gifted as she is in math and science, her school’s Science Olympiad team doesn’t interest her. It’s “extra work for no grade.” She deems it, “Pointless.”
She’s in the gifted pull-out class connected to SO, so she was asked last year and this year to attend the competition as an alternate. It’s a role few children have interest in, given that it means no project or participation but they have to get on a bus at 7am on a Saturday and sit in a classroom at the competition site for 8+ hours in case they’re needed.
Last year, this event was where the bullying of Girlie began. The event from which she texted me tearfully saying that her BFF hated her. That turned out to be horribly accurate.
This year, the competition is tomorrow, Girlie’s birthday. Also a VERY early morning following Girlie’s bday gift concert tonight. Girlie is NOT a morning person.
Additionally, the students will arrive home tomorrow evening one hour before her birthday party is scheduled to begin. Sigh.
When I asked her this morning, given all of this, WHY she would agree to be an alternate, she said that alternates were really needed and that one of her close friends is in the competition and asked Girlie to attend.
She may not care to push herself to achieve. But she’s willing to do something that she doesn’t want to do, something that has terrible memories associated with it, something that’s inconvenient and “boring”, simply to be helpful and because her friend asked her to.
These are ways we are gifts to the world that aren’t quantified on college applications or resumes. They’re easily overlooked, both by others and by ourselves.
Today, I charge you to see the entirety of your being as a gift. See your children, partner, students, colleagues, friends, random people you encounter, this way too.
We are not a list of meetings we’ve attended or races we’ve run.
We are lighthouses, safe havens, random acts of kindness, lifelines, GoFundMe campaigns, someone’s reason for being.
Seek to be more of who you are and to celebrate it.