Thursday, June 7, 2012

Special Is As Special Does

I had the WORST day yesterday. I mean the worst.

It started out bad and got worse as the day progressed. It wasn't just one thing but a culmination of a lot of things and I was quietly, secretly trying to hold it together. Then, the biggest hit of all came and it was like a tidal wave of bad about the one thing that you can get me with 10 out of 10 times. My kids. And this time it wasn't just one, it was both.

As you know, we have been in celebratory mode around here with Frick graduating and all, and it all culminates this weekend with a big, blow out, $$oiree for her on Saturday. It's the party she never had, but I think she deserves and I made sure to "order it up from the caterer" (this will make sense in a minute) Then the blow came and it left me sick to my stomach.

I'm still in limbo over my feelings, and as I sit here today and wait for the rental company (that there is no turning back on), to come and set up the massive tent, tables, chairs and dance floor, I have to ask myself, "What the hell are you doing?". Then like a little grace from God, just when I had asked for it and needed it, it came to me in my morning paper. It's not really the answer, because there is no answer, but it's a statement. A mission statement to all those parents who are feeling like I am right now.

A local English teacher addressed the students at commencement last weekend and his speech entitled, "You're  Not Special" put it into perspective for me. He said what needed to be said to all of us parents and students and overachievers who think our shit doesn't stink. Boy are we wrong.

Basically it was a much needed bitch slap to all of us who get caught up in the race for perfection.

"You are not special. You are not exceptional.
Contrary to what your u9 soccer trophy suggests, your glowing seventh grade report card, despite every assurance of a certain corpulent purple dinosaur, that nice Mister Rogers and your batty Aunt Sylvia, no matter how often your maternal caped crusader has swooped in to save you... you’re nothing special."

Was my cape really that obvious?

What the heck? It was like this guy was talking directly to me and his words were never truer. He did what needed to be done and he told it like it needs to be told. As a parent in the community, an educator and mentor, he gave it to them straight, just like the real world undoubtedly will. 

"Yes, you’ve been pampered, cosseted, doted upon, helmeted, bubble-wrapped. Yes, capable adults with other things to do have held you, kissed you, fed you, wiped your mouth, wiped your bottom, trained you, taught you, tutored you, coached you, listened to you, counseled you, encouraged you, consoled you and encouraged you again. You’ve been nudged, cajoled, wheedled and implored. You’ve been feted and fawned over and called sweetie pie. Yes, you have. And, certainly, we’ve been to your games, your plays, your recitals, your science fairs. Absolutely, smiles ignite when you walk into a room, and hundreds gasp with delight at your every tweet. Why, maybe you’ve even had your picture in the Townsman! And now you’ve conquered high school... and, indisputably, here we all have gathered for you, the pride and joy of this fine community, the first to emerge from that magnificent new building...
But do not get the idea you’re anything special. Because you’re not."

Guilty as charged and justly so, because we may have taught our over scheduled, over achieving children that it's more about the medal and less about the race. He then goes on to encourage the graduates to pursue a more fulfilling life, one that puts the focus on hard work and achieving. Because Frack's three week trip to Uganda this summer NEEDS to be about the children they are helping and the school they are building, not the resume he is building. The irony is not lost on me. 

“The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer.”

Amen to that. Because I will certainly remember it this Saturday as I'm cutting the check to the caterer. 


Anonymous said...

Damn, you should know at your age woman!

SkylersDad said...

words to live by, great stuff!

sybil law said...

Reminders are good every now and then!
I actually teach my kid most of that stuff. Unfortunately, because of people like her grandfather (narcissist liar who's ALL about impressions - oh, and a thief, too), I've had to explain why I don't like him, and I'm pretty honest about it. Actually, this is a good thing, but anyway (I've been drinking) I try to stress the importance of working hard and doing the right and sensible thing when it might be hard to go against friends.
I think you've done a great job with your kids. Enjoy the party!

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

I do think some parents create monsters by convincing their kids that they are the 2nd coming of Baby Jesus. There have been some studies that suggest this turns kids into bullies.

I'm going to tell my kid that the best part of him ran down the crack of his mother's ass.

Okay, I won't be that harsh. Or explicate. But I will be realistic.

the walking man said...

Ha ha ha Sorry Candace I have to laugh...I graduated HS but was in boot camp when June came around. They had asked me to leave early because some pretty boy ran into my fist a few times for calling my friends niggers.

I have never walked across any stage or when my kids did, did I felt any need more than to hand over the car keys and a $50 and told them don't get high and if you do call me for a no bitch out ride home, they knew I'd kick their ass if they came home drunk or stoned if they drove themselves.

Pampering my kids was them watching me leave for work at 0530 and returning home at midnight for 12 years. Now they all work or are working on a 5 year degree in 3 years.

Congrats to the kid for getting through with such good grades and a well rounded life..but more so to you for ensuring she understood what made it all happen.--YOUR EFFORT AT WORK to foot the bill.

MarkD60 said...

Good speech, like the Sunscreen one. Amazing you remember it verbatim like this.
Hope your days get brighter.