One of the joys of being a grandmother, a Yaya, is being present when my grandchildren are recognized for accomplishments. I’ve had the honor of being in the audience for all five of my grandkids at various times, as they receive awards or special recognition. I believe it is important to be a witness to their young lives, so they know that I am there, cheering them on.
This afternoon, I was in the audience at my grandson’s elementary school award assembly, as a witness to Oliver’s life. At Steadley, the children adopt a character word for each month, and memorize a quote about it. They put that character quality into practice during the month as well. January’s character word was Perseverance.
The teachers in each grade select students from their classrooms who best demonstrate the month’s character word. Oliver was selected by his teacher for the award. The children don’t know who has been chosen, until the assembly. I was joined in the auditorium by Greg, and my son Nate and daughter-in-law Megan, all there as Team Oliver.
The assembly was presided over by Dr. Barlow, the school principal. Dr. Barlow is the most inspiring and engaging principal I have ever met. His love for others is evident. He interacts with the kids, leading them in fun songs, and asking pop questions. To hear several hundred children recite the Preamble to the US Constitution together, under his direction, is always deeply moving. All assemblies at Steadley begin thus.
Before the awards were handed out, the school bus drivers were recognized. What an amazing tribute! I don’t believe I have ever seen bus drivers so cheerfully and sincerely thanked for their devotion and dedication. It was during this segment of the assembly that I realized that recognition is a powerful way to make life a little more tender for others.
There was robust clapping and cheering as each child’s name was announced for the Character Kid awards. I was thrilled for Oliver. This third grader has changed so much in the last year. He still loves for me to time him as he rides his bike, and when he’s tired he enjoys snuggling up under his favorite blanket.
However, I see the young man emerging. I appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit and his big ideas. I love listening to him share those dreams and watching as he comes more and more into who he is created to be. Perseverance? Yes, this boy can be persistent in going after what he wants.
When children are toddlers, and forming a sense of self, they love to have an audience. “Watch me!” they call out, “Look at me!” What they are really saying is see me. It is an invitation to appreciate who they are and what they can do. Oh, they may not fully realize that, but it’s what we all long for, to be seen, and appreciated.
I am applauding and cheering and being a witness, for my children and grandchildren. Way to challenge yourself, Oliver, and persevere. I am so wonderfully proud of you. And I will always be watching.