Of course we're proud of our kids. We know it, they know it, everyone we know knows it. What surprises me most is their sense of responsibility and commitment. What I love about them most is their willingness and humour.
We recently had a well attended Robert Burns supper at Cleveland Place--an event the whole family looks forward to more than the usual traditional holidays during the year. A few newcomers came to the party this year who weren't very well acquainted with the kids, and several remarked after the festivities how "great your kids are! They're interesting, all very independent, creative, and FUNNY!" High praise for a mum to hear, and I was eager to share that with them all, since I certainly feel the same way.
It made me remember other opportunities for praise when they were younger and involved in school or other activities which has probably shaped their character somewhat, either from having had too much or not enough at key moments.
When Andrew was in high-school he was in the marching band. The new band director meant business and they had exhausting practices, requiring long after-school hours of marching and playing; Andrew carrying the snare drum or the quad-set of snares on his shoulders under the late afternoon or early Saturday morning sun. The high-school football team was not stellar, but the band put on a great half-time show. The Marching Band also participated in state competitions that were pretty tough.
As Band Parents, our requirements were to faithfully attend the Saturday competitions, occasionally serve hot dogs, purchase banners, buttons, rattle noise-makers and root and holler to show our support. One loyalty purchase at these events was a half-time Shout Out. At a designated booth, parents could purchase a Shout Out page for five dollars and write a few lines that the announcer would read over the PA system as the bands made formation on the field before their performance and competition. Most parents would write a few pithy lines praising Suzy's flute skills or congratulating Johnny's Tuba talents, expressing pride, dedication, love, and admiration and above all, supporting the team: GO EAGLES! In our efforts to financially support the band, and make our contributions, we purchased several Shout Outs at every competition. We just couldn't' tolerate any more of the We Love you and we're proud of you (insert name here) now go play your (insert instrument here) and make us even more proud. So ours went something more like this:
Hey, Son! Congratulations on having a dry bed this morning! Now go blow that horn! Love, Mom & Dad.
Dear Son. We love you, but your mother and I are getting a divorce. Good luck today.
Hey Kid! I can't tell you who I am, but I'm watching you and I'm proud of you. Love, your biological Dad.
Since many of the Varsity Members of the band were seniors, waiting on college acceptance status. we added:
Sorry, Kiddo, the letter from the college came in; apparently felony convictions DO affect admission. Play hard out there, today, anyway!
Andrew knew we were proud of him, I hope. We just weren't so sappy about expressing it.
When Justin was in high school he joined the Cross Country Track Team. Our participation required a lot less to show support for the team. We showed up, watched him take off at the starting line, waited around for about an hour, and watched him cross the finish line, giving him a congratulatory minimal bodily contact sweaty hug when he could catch his breath. Strong, lean, fit, that boy could run! He started entering local community 5 & 10 K runs. Occasionally, we'd find ourselves hunched over a Dunkin' Donuts coffee on early dewy Saturday mornings dropping him off at the registration tables getting his number and t-shirt, and find the starting line to watch him take off. After several events, we could generally pace his time, and goof off until we'd anticipate his finish. On one run, he wasn't seen at his usual run time, and we watched the crowd--some were regulars that we recognized from other races--but he wasn't on the horizon. We remarked that today was a slow run for him. More time and runners passed, and Justin still wasn't seen. We stood, peering deep into the groups, hoping to catch the color of shorts, his tank top. No Justin. Uh, Oh---maybe he's been hurt; a twisted ankle, burst lung, a fall, heat exhaustion, dehydration?
THERE HE IS! We spot him, in full pace, intact, no limping, no road rash--but at least 7 minutes behind his usual timing. He crossed the finish line, and we approached. He breathlessly told us that there was a great yard sale not too far back and there was some archery equipment in the yard; he'd stopped to take a look.
I'm glad he still doesn't take things too seriously.