Mariela sat at the picnic table, pen in hand. Sitting at the same picnic table, I saw her write a bit, stop, look around, write a little more, and ask a question.
“Which way sounds better?” she would ask, and then say two versions of the same sentence. She said she would be nervous ever since the parent committee expressed that during the fifth grade graduation ceremony, they wanted parents of graduates to stand before the group to say words of encouragement. Calm, kind, unassuming, and quiet, Mariela’s first reaction was simply, “Oh my gosh.”
“I’m going to be shaking,” she said. Then with a smile, “And it’s all for my daughter, I guess. Imagine how it’s going to inspire her. But I’m going to be so nervous!”
To ease public speaking fears, all of the fifth grade parents received cards on which they could write to their words of encouragement so that they could read them at the meeting.
Mariela’s public speaking diffidence spilled into her writing of the card. “I don’t know what to say, you write it,” she had protested initially. With the affirmation of two parents sitting with us, she sat down to write.
I chatted with the two other parents present as she continued the cycle nearby. Write, stop, look around, ask a question, and write more.
“Oh my gosh, I ruined it,” she said after a few minutes.
“How did you ruin it?” A mom and I asked.
“I don’t think I said something quite right,” she said.
We asked her to read us what she had written. Mariela picked up and began to read, “My dear daughter, I’m so proud of the effort you have put into your school and how much you have achieved. You are the motor that inspires me to keep going every day – that’s the part where I messed up!”
The other parents and I looked at each other quizzically. “That’s perfect,” the mom next to me breathed.
“It’s beautiful. She’ll love it.”
At the fifth grade graduation, every fifth grader cried quietly as their parent hugged them and read words of pride and blessing over them. As Mariela faced her daughter and read what she had written, tears quietly streamed down her daughter’s face. At the end, both smiled shyly and hugged each other before returning to the table to eat.
Later, the other parents approached Mariela. “What you said was beautiful. I would have been nervous, but you seemed so calm!”
Even though she had gone up to affirm and honor her daughter, we were glad to end the Kids Club year on a note where our parents could honor each other as well.