Today, I received an email from my daughter’s 7th grade chorus teacher:
I just wanted to let you know how awesome your daughter is! Last night after the 7th graders were done performing, she and a few other girls organized all of the choir robes in their room. They made sure the robes were hung up correctly and put them in order for me. They did this without being asked. I really appreciate this and just thought you should know! “Chicken #1” is a great kid and I’m so glad I get to work with her.
Yes, this is a proud parent moment. Although, it’s a little more than that for me. I want to share what was happening in the cafeteria while Chicken #1 was picking up and organizing choir robes. Once the concert was over, her father noticed that the janitor lady (this tiny lady in her 50’s) started stacking all the chairs. I would guess there were about 100 chairs to stack and this woman was solely responsible to stack all of them. So my husband started stacking the chairs around us. Of course, then my other two chickens and me started helping. Then about 4-5 other parents and kids started helping. By the time Chicken #1 came back to the cafeteria, we had helped the janitor stack half the room.
Another recent example…the gym my husband and I go to is not handicap accessible. No elevator. No automatic doors. (Not sure how they are getting away with this). He was leaving the other afternoon and he noticed a woman sitting in a wheelchair by the door. About 10 people walked around her, in order for them to walk out the door. My husband walked up to her and asked if she needed help. She said yes. Usually there was someone at the front desk, but the person wasn’t there so she was just waiting until someone could help her. Ten people walked past her and not one stopped to ask her if she needed help. My husband did though. He helped her through the doors and then asked if she needed help getting into her van. He made sure she got in the van and then folded up her wheelchair and put it in the van for her.
Could you imagine if we all were this observant and this helpful? If naturally, it was just ingrained in us to do the right thing and ask people if they need help or just start helping without even being asked? I wish it came naturally to me, but at least I am aware it doesn’t and so I make a conscious effort to pay attention. To know that my oldest chicken is leading by example though…of all the things I would hope she got from her dad, this would be #1 (being tall is a close 2nd).
I’m also grateful she is forming friendships with girls who are just as responsible. I remember my friends at that age (luckily I am still friends with them), and I know how important those friendships were to me through my awkward junior high years into high school and now through my adult years.
We may have been goofy, we may have spent weekends singing various broadway musicals and playing Super Mario Brothers, but wow we had fun. We never had to do drugs or drink to laugh so hard we were crying (although we do enjoy a glass or bottle of wine from time to time now). This is what I want for my daughters. Those kind of lasting friendships.
I have been thinking about those friends a lot lately, and even though we don’t get to see each other as much as we would like, when we do, we don’t miss a beat. I’m sure we had some ups and downs over the years, but what I value most is how equal our friendships were. The three of us never took more than gave. I don’t think I realized how unusual it can be to have friends like that. So when I see my daughter sing/rapping all the words to Hamilton with her friends, it reminds me of Mokey and Red who would sing “Little Drop of Rain” from Les Miserable to me whenever I asked or dance around to “What’s the Buzz” from Jesus Christ Superstar while jumping on and off couches. (Or this one time when we were in the middle of a Canada lake on a canoe and they decided to stand up and switch places and evil laughed when I started panicking. Not cool.)
We can’t choose our kids’ friends, but we can hope that we helped them grow into people that would choose the types of friends who will help them make smart decisions as they grow up, build each other’s confidence as they go through some pretty tough years, and equally give and take. What a difference that can make in your life. And as I get older, I realize how lucky I am to have been raised in such a great home and to have had such good friends along the way.
*”Awesome possum kicks Dr. Machino’s butt!”We also played this Nintendo game, and to this day recite this line with the same vigor as the original video game.)