Today we pressed send.
I have to believe the first is the hardest. It seems like it takes forever to finish, and much like being a first-time parent, you agonize, worry, second-guess. and berate yourself every step of the way. Are you doing it right? What do they want? Will they like me? Is who I am enough, or do I need to be someone more? Do I need to be someone better? Do I need to be someone...else? These are horrible, cruel questions for adults to consider, let alone a teenager.
Now that we have pressed send, and the things that have been done cannot be undone, I would like to post this addenda to the process. There were no spaces for this information, and I firmly believe if you want a truer, clearer picture, here is a brief postscript of things I think you should know.
She believes in supporting the lives and interests of others. It is not at all unusual to hear things like, "of course I'll help" and "what can I do?" This past week she said, "and I really do NOT want to talk about people behind their backs." You and I both know this is unusual behavior for just about any human being, much less a teenager. She possesses and displays a genuine sense of caring that betrays the stereotypical egocentric teenage years. It touches me to see her worry about her friends who are in trouble or having difficult times. With her sympathetic listening ear and strong shoulder, she is often called upon to be therapist, confessor, confidant and friend. She understands the importance of finding the good of a situation, and sharing a genuine compliment when a criticism would be so much easier, and in abundance.
She believes in being on time. For many, many years she has lived by the philosophy, "to be on time is to be late, and to be early is to be on time." For her, a 7:00 call means 6:45. "It's always good to be a little early." This may seem a trivial point to bring up, but believe me, being on time is polite, and it says, "I know you're busy and I'm busy too. It makes no sense to be late and cause problems for everybody.
She believes in respect. Respect for adults. Respect for mentors. Respect for peers. Respect for situations and locations. She believes in dressing properly for the theater and for church -- which means dressing up. She believes in please and thank you, in shaking hands and being friendly. You might think that a part of "playing the game" but in all honesty, it's just who she is. She nice, and in a good way.
She understand responsibilities. She understands that sometimes you might not feel like doing something, but you do it anyway. Not because you're told to, or bribed, or forced, but because you said you would. She understands the importance of honoring commitments, and not leaving others stranded or saddled with extra work.
She is an expert at discretion and tact. The family saying, "save it for the car" has served her well over the years. But really, she is just a nice person. Nice to others. Nice to be around. Just nice.
None of these things listed above add to her grade point or change her class standing. But believe me, these are qualities you want to see, and these are the ambassadors you need. Nice people. Responsible people. Discrete people. Timely people. Supportive people. Passionate people. Wise people.
Ultimately everyone could be someone better. Everyone could do more. But please, don't ask her to be someone else. She's not perfect in any way, shape or form, but at the young age of 17, she's pretty damn awesome just the way she is. You'll see.