Thursday, October 26, 2006

Do I Make You Proud?

My children complain that I tend to malign them too often in this column. That is not my intention, of course, and I hope that interpretation is due to familial sensitivity. Although the kids and their exploits are seemingly an endless source of tongue-in-cheek as well as serious topic inspiration, they are also the supply of oceans of pride.

Jack and I recently went to see the “American Idols” in concert. This year’s winner, Taylor Hicks, dedicated his song, “Do I Make You Proud?” to all those serving in the military here and around the world. I immediately welled up and Jack gently took my hand and squeezed it and smiled up at me: I was proud on two levels – for Blake due to the obvious, motherly and patriotic reasons, and for Jack because of his maturity and protective instincts.

Of course our children make us proud. And naturally, we may not always show that support to them as often as we may imagine. Somehow and sometimes the need to correct, to question, to challenge comes spewing out of us. There is the verbal disclaimer of which we aren’t even conscious: “That was a great hit, but…;” “Well a B-plus is fine, but…;” “Thank you for saying ‘thank you,’ but…;” “Wouldn’t you be happier at this college?”; or “I know you tried your best, but…”

To provide some “balanced journalism,” I offer up some moments of pride for my four babies. I think it will get your own wheels whirling regarding your own child’s shining moments.

With Jack, many “wow!” moments involve sporting events: Jack intercepting the football and running 20 yards for a touchdown; a game winning catch in center field; sprinting to the top of a portable rock climbing wall. He’s also solved puzzles that stump an adult and shoveled snow without being asked or even expected to be asked. He saves every penny of allowance, holiday money and birthday checks.

Janet gave me goose bumps in elementary school when she and a friend sang and danced in the West School variety show, bringing down the house. Three summers ago she roped a calf at her camp’s final rodeo, and although seeing a tiny spider will cause her panic, she nevertheless rides horses in the Tetons amongst black bears. Janet amazes me when she runs to a friend’s aid, either literally or via phone or email; her loyalty can be fierce. And her creative writing is top notch.

Kenny had many a basketball game-saving dunk or three-pointer, the show-stopping lead in a middle school musical, and the ability to solve a Rubik’s cube blindfolded and in less than three minutes in a talent show. He was valedictorian of his recording arts college class and gave the commencement speech during his entertainment business graduation. And currently he is about to launch an online music source, His entrepreneurial side gives me more pride than pause.

As a child, Blake dove into a pool in October to save a frog that was headed toward certain death-by-pool-filter. An accomplished artist in high school, he often had his drawings on display in the lobby. He will defend me and protect me emotionally when push comes to shove. And I needn’t go into his courage and bravery and commitment as a member of the United States Marine Corps.

Gaining and maintaining self-esteem is a tricky entity with children, adolescents and young adults. Reminding our kids of their worth, of our pride, of how terrific they are even when they may stumble is crucial. So they strike out; big deal. Or they find a “C’ on their report card; encourage them anyway.

Catch them doing something good every now and again. It’s always happening.

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