Ava was honoured at her elementary school yesterday with a Lamplighter award, given to 2 students from each class who are considered a positive influence on their peers. As a mom, I was thrilled and proud of her, but awards like these can cause hurt feelings for others, who are also good role models but won't be celebrated publicly because only 2 out of 19 children can be picked.
All kids are special, and excel at specific things. One of my least favourite areas of parenting involves the competition that goes on between moms for how advanced their kid is compared to mine. I try to stay away from that at all costs because no one wins when you begin this useless competition. In Ava's classroom this week, every child was celebrated for something exceptional about them, and I was thrilled to watch that inclusive spirit at work.
I had a lump the size of Kansas in my throat at the Lamplighter assembly, when there was a slide show of pictures from throughout the year, set to a song that all of the kids have sung in music class. Every child in that small gymnasium sang, their voices soaring to the rafters with confidence and joy, some performing the actions, while they cheered for their friends or themselves on the screen. I felt the happiness of children all around me, and saw what a great group of kids we have in our community, and I was beyond proud to live here and be linked with them all.
Each Lamplighter was given a book when they were called to the front. It's called Only One You, by Linda Kranz. Ava read it to me at bedtime, and suddenly I was crying again. I said, "If you can live by this advice, each and every day, you will be a very successful person." I loved how succinct and true each sentence was. I saw where I succeed and where I fail, and recognized the areas I need to work on in my own life.
That little picture book about fish gave Ava and I a natural window to sit on her bed and talk about life and dreams and hope for the future. I couldn't be prouder of my 7 year old daughter. On the bad parenting days it helps to have moments like the one I made last night with your kids, so it will shore up your confidence when you worry you aren't doing a good enough job. Last night I celebrated alongside of Ava for all that she is now, and all that she will become as she grows up.
Here are the simple words that inspired Ava and I last night:
Always be on the lookout for a new friend.
Look for beauty wherever you are, and keep the memory of it with you.
Blend in when you need to. Stand out when you have the chance.
Find your own way. You don't have to follow the crowd.
Know when to speak. Know when to listen.
No matter how you look at it, there is so much to discover.
If you make a wrong turn, circle back.
If something gets in your way, move around it.
Set aside some quiet time to relax and reflect. Every day.
Appreciate art. It's all around you!
Make wishes on the stars in the nighttime sky.
There's only one you in this great big world. Make it a better place.