My emotions got the best of me in all places, an award ceremony at an elementary school for my first grader.
She didn’t know I was coming. She didn’t know she would be receiving an award. Her teacher asked that I keep it a secret. The night prior she indicated that “the Award Assembly is for the smart kids. It is tomorrow.” Her voice said it all. She didn’t think she was smart enough to get an award there. I said “baby, you are smart! I bet you will get one!”
…. “No I wont because I don’t always know the answer….”
Here is the thing. SHE IS SMART. But am I biased, yea just a little ya think? Of course I am! She’s my sunshine girl. She’s my girl I prayed to have for 6 very long long years. I admit, I’m totally biased.
But here is the thing- SHE IS SMART. No grade lower than a 94 in all subjects all year long. She works hard. I always encourage her to just do her best. She is the one that makes sure she has her work done before she plays. I just make sure she has sharp pencils and a place to work. I make sure the books are rotated for fresh reading material. I pick up the extra work books at the bookstore. As parents we both encourage and avoid the pressure. It’s the process of learning that we want to make fun and inviting.
But she didn’t think she was smart enough to receive an award today? Where had I failed? When she walked in the gym, she saw me and waved. I saw a little tear in her eye. I put my thumb up and smiled real big. She must have known at that point why I was there. She smiled really big back. She kept looking back at me as various awards in 1st grade were given. All of the sudden her name was called. She jumped up and ran down the aisle to fetch her two very hard earned awards. Tears were streaming down my face. I felt ridiculous.
Her Pawpaw and Yaya were there to delight in her achievements and we cheered for her. She kept looking back and we all three put our thumbs up in the air to her.
Big hugs were given at the end and she said “How did you know? I didn’t think I was smart enough to get an award at school.” I said “a little birdie may have told me…. ” and I winked at her teacher.
I have this thing that I tell her from one of my favorite fiction novels.
“You is kind. You is smart. You is Important.” – The Help
I said “YOU IS SO SMART BABY GIRL! OF COURSE YOU GOT AN AWARD. NOT ONE. BUT TWO!” and I made sure she heard me loud and clear in that gym full of noise of families and children chattering. She lightly grinned and then ran to her class to finish her school day. My heart was so full, but yet broken. Did she really believe it though?
Where did I fail? I dunno, but her confidence radiates as a bright light when you see her with friends and family. You can’t help but smile when she is around. Her excitement over life spills over to others.
The previous weekend she held a prayer book in front of an entire congregation she had never met before. Then she walked around in that same congregation with her new baby cousin, singing Jesus Loves Me. A few weeks prior she performed five dances at a dance recital and didn’t skip a beat. A few weeks prior to that, she crushed her Girl Scout cookie goal and sold cookies to everyone coming and going. I honestly only counted the big bills to help her. She went on a Zoo trip and made friends with a zoo keeper and told the zoo keeper all sorts of facts on Sloths. A few before that she stood at the pulpit at our own church. She gave a talk about families being together forever. Just last week at her golf lesson, she drove the golf ball down the fairway further than any six year old girl I’ve ever met. I thought wow. Then my thought was was confirmed by the golf pro who said “whoa little girl- you got a drive!” and did that thing that golfers do when you do something good. Ya know, it’s like a big hand motion jerk like “oh yes”….. if you don’t know- watch Golf on t.v. 😉
But for an academic award assembly she didn’t think she was smart enough? It baffled me. It bothered me so much. I thought about all the ways I could tell her she was smart, but she had to believe it for herself in order to know it. How do you do that with a 6 year old? I don’t know, but I prayed about it. How do I show her so she will understand. Sure she is proud of all the things she does, but she doesn’t believe she is smart. There is always positive reinforcement in our house. Always. As a mother you doubt yourself basically every single day, but I was really doubting myself here.
A day or so had passed and so I asked her, “why don’t you think you are smart? Obviously you are a smart girl, but you don’t think it?” I took the laminated awards and danced around the kitchen to physically show her.
At 6, going on 16, she rolled her eyes at me… then she laughed really hard.
She sat with her ice cream cup and her big blue eyes looked up at me—-
“because I don’t know all the answers Momma.”
I said “you don’t have to be smart to know all the answers. That is how you learn baby girl.”
She shook her head and said “no- not the answers at school. I don’t know all the answers like you do Momma. You know. Like how to braid my hair and how to get my tooth out and how you always know all the answers when I ask you. I don’t know all the answers.”
and my eyes filled with tears again. She is calling me the smart one? How did we get here? What do I say? She sees smart as being me?
You see, the thing is- she is everything that I am NOT. She is beautiful. She is capable of doing anything she believes she can. She is outgoing. She is funny. She is sweet. She is kind. She is SMART in school subjects. She is smart in social settings. She does know all the answers. She just doesn’t realize it yet.
So I ate my ice cream and gave her baby brother a bite. It was quiet. I had a moment to gather my thoughts before the little one busted into a crying or squealing fit. Maybe just feed him all the ice cream until I got all the thoughts out. ha!
I said “I’m not smart Mallie, but I pray a lot. I only know the answers sometimes and when I don’t know the answers, I find my knees and I pray. But school work, yes school work was easy for Momma when I studied, like it is for you. But life, nope, it’s not easy and I don’t know all the answers. Honest- It’s not about knowing all the answers to be smart. It’s about knowing where to find the answers. If you know where to find the answers and if you are willing to work to find them, that makes you smart. I often heard my Grandma Scott tell me, ‘if you don’t know what road to go to next, you just pray and you get up and get to work. You think the road is going to end, you pray some more. The road isn’t going to end as long as you are talking to God. He will make a new road or maybe lead you back to an old road. You just talk to him when you don’t know the answer. You don’t know an answer on a math test. That’s alright, say a little prayer and God will put what you have studied in your head.’
and “Mallie, God is good and what is good is always the smart answer. I’ve just learned that by taking different roads. That is the only way I know how to get answers that you think I know. I do a lot of talking to God. When the road ends, I talk some more and my Grandma has been right so far so I guess I’ll just keep doing that. I’ve been on old roads and new roads, but he is always there to guide me on the next road I go. I’m not saying God makes you smart. I’m just saying God isn’t going to let you down, not ever. Not even when you think the road has been destroyed by a flood or a big backhoe like Pawpaw has. Somehow the road gets built again. Trust me on this one, you are 6, but you often are so much wiser and older than 6. I mean apparently, because we are having this conversation. See, there you go- YOU IS SMART BABY GIRL. Just study hard. Pray. Be a good friend. That’s all the answers you really need to know right now.”
The conversation ended. I was certain I have overloaded her. She is a thinker.
A little while later she was playing with her baby dolls. I was standing at the kitchen sink and I heard her say,
“You is smart.”
I turned around and wiped the tears on my sleeve.
God sent my ray of sunshine to teach me, but she doesn’t think she is smart enough to get an award at school? One day I pray she read this. When and if she does I hope she will realize just how smart she actually is. I also pray it doesn’t take it her that long to really know she is a smart girl all the way around.
I am a firm believer she was sent to me to teach me how to keep moving forward when the road ends, or it gets washed out, or it gets rerouted by the world. God’s ways and his timing, I just can’t explain it. It’s all part of the grand design and this little girl, she was sent to teach me that very thing. This blog it isn’t for me, maybe you find some encouragement by reading it, but it’s for my babies- Mallie and Maxwell. So when their roads get washed out, they will know how to rebuild, because Momma said “God is good and what is good is always the right answer.”