When I was an English teacher, our ninth grade students had to pass a writing assessment in order to move on to the next college-prep English class. It was a daunting process. After one of these exams, I was sifting through a stack of essays making sure a parent had signed each paper. I came across one that had the required signature and beneath that, "Way to go, Jo Jo!"
It made me cry.
I know this family well. They have lots of children who, over the years, have amassed lots of honors of various kinds. Jo Jo is one of their youngest. And what struck me more than anything was that through many a graduation and first communion, through plenty of dances and birthday parties innumerable, this mom had not lost the ability to celebrate. This was a big, big deal to her daughter, and mom took the extra ten seconds to recognize that fact.
I still remember this story more than ten years later, but it no longer amazes me in quite the same way. I have four kids now. The younger ones are now climbing mountains the older ones have long since conquered.
The thrill is still there.
In some ways, these tiny milestones -- the first steps, the lost tooth, that faltering bike ride -- mean even more because fourteen years of parenting have left me with a sure and certain knowledge of how fast time really passes. Yeah, yeah, yeah -- a total cliche, they're growing up so fast -- But They Are Growing Up So Fast!
Then, too, there is the glee, the unadulterated joy, that small children find in simple pleasures -- the new supply of play doh, coloring books, oatmeal pies and in their new found abilities -- to swim, to write, to go potty!
So here's John's latest feat:
John need not worry about being the over looked third child. First, third, tenth -- when your child suddenly does something he could not do just a day or an hour before, it is thrilling, simply thrilling.
Way to go, John John!