I planned on writing about my son who is graduating from high school this weekend. I thought about recalling how 30 minutes after bringing him home from the hospital, at 2 days old, we had to call 911 and return to Eastern Maine Medical Center in the back of an ambulance because he was choking.
Or how I noticed when he was four months old that the pupils in his dark brown eyes were not equal in size, which led to his first MRI, or how his head always leaned to the left, which led to infant physical therapy.
None of these things were serious, by the way. He’s perfectly healthy.
But each one was scary at the time.
All we wanted was for him to be perfectly healthy and happy and to feel safe and loved.
Four simple goals.
Some infants get all of those things.
As parents of toddlers, we’re all anxious for first words and steps and concerned about size and weight and we measure those milestones and record them in books.
Some toddlers reach those milestones in perfect order.
Things get a bit more complicated as they grow.
In the blink of an eye, it is time for school.
Can he use scissors as well as the kid seated beside him?
Is he kind on the playground?
Is he popular?
Is he going to be a good student?
Is he on track?
Some of the kids are all of those things.
Some of them are not.
Youth sports, social clubs, music and dance and summer camps.
Some kids go and prosper, some go and get by and some don’t go at all.
Some are joiners.
Some are not.
In high school there are some who are straight-A students and three-season star athletes.
Most are not.
Some parents are disheartened by a B-minus, some are elated by a C-plus.
Someone is the president of the class and someone is the loner and everyone else is in between.
Earlier this week, Bangor School Superintendent Betsy Webb suggested that the trek between K-12 took some “grit.”
For some, just showing up takes incredible dedication and self discipline.
If you’re a poor kid or one with little parental supervision, if you are sick, have low self-esteem, bad clothes, bad teeth, bad acne, if you are shy, awkward, dyslexic or obese, just showing up and getting a passing grade can take a great deal of “grit.”
The stories of gifted students and outstanding athletes are worthy of telling for sure. Hard work and dedication never get old.
But this weekend, for those of you attending high school graduations, take a look around at the whole class that sits before you. The smartest and most accomplished may be asked up on stage to receive an award or a much deserved accolade and a round of applause, but some very real achievements, some great examples of perseverance, and, I can guarantee you, some inspirational stories of “grit,” lay untold before your eyes.
Renee Ordway can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.