Monday, August 17, 2009

First Day of School

In a few days my oldest daughter will be starting school. I didn't buy her any new school clothes this year. No shiny new shoes for her. I wanted to buy her a Strawberry Shortcake backpack to put all of her supplies in but she wouldn't hear of it. I recommended that she polish an apple or two and hand them to her teacher as she enters the classroom. I think she harrumphed at that suggestion. I really did offer to buy her a new desk so she will have her very own workspace. I won't be standing at the corner with her waiting for the big yellow bus to come bumbling down the road. She is quite independent about this whole school experience and doesn't need my help but that is probably a good thing since she is thirty years old. I know it seems impossible for me to have a thirty year old child and you are probably searching the Guinness Book of World Records to see if I am listed under 'Woman who gave birth at the age of one,' but alas I truly am old enough.



I have always respected and believed in education and its importance. I understand and respect that college is not for everyone and truly believe that some of the best educations are not found within the walls of academia. But my daughter is a born scholar. She LOVES to learn and to be surrounded by papers, piles of thick books, syllabuses, schedules and research materials. She already has her Bachelor's Degree and is now pursuing her Master's Degree in Linguistics. And I couldn't be happier for her. She lives on the opposite coast from me so I do not get to see her nearly enough. But when talking to her on the phone recently about her upcoming first day of school I could hear the excitement in her voice. She had renewed energy and zest. She talks fast on a slow day and on this day I had to set my ears to super fast listening as she excitedly told me about the classes she had signed up for and the people she had met so far. I am so happy for her. I am so proud of her. And then I decided I wanted the whole world to know how very proud I am of her.



Dear Oldest Daughter,



As you prepare for your first day of Graduate School, I find myself reflecting on the past thirty years and just a few of the thousands of experiences we have shared. When I was pregnant with you the popular belief was that if I ate lots of tuna fish my baby would come out with an IQ of 500 so I ate many tuna fish sandwiches. Of course now the research shows that maybe that wasn't the wisest decision because of mercury levels but you certainly are one smart cookie. Dad and I started reading to you prebirth. I would hold the books up to my belly button so maybe you could peek out and see the pictures and Dad would read the words to you. You would kick me and poke me when we came to a verse that you felt passionately about - you had very bony elbows. Dad would sing to you and I talked to you incessantly. Your present interest in Linguistics does not surprise me at all.



My favorite thing to play when I was young was school so imagine how delighted I was to have a little girl who was my first real student. I read to you from the beginning, and when you were four you wrote your first book titled 'Henry and Denise'. I took dictation which was no easy task since you were a fast talker even back then. You drew all of the pictures to accompany the text. The book starts out...'Once upon a time there were two people. One day they were walking down the street and they found a box. It had two lines and a design on it. Their names were Henry and Denise. They opened the box up and they found an ...' the story continues for 21 pages and that book sits on my coffee table today.


I cherish the memories of walking to the local library and choosing books each week. You loved going to the children's room and there we would sit playing Hi-Ho Cherry-O and finally we bought our own copy of the game so we could play it more frequently. Your love for books and your proficiency as a reader was obvious from a very young age. You are proof that reading to children at a young age does make an incredible difference in the life of a child.


Prior to your starting public school, your dad and I had done our research and had the ability and freedom to be able to move to a community which had a reputation and track record for teaching children how to learn. And hats off to all the educators through the years who recognized and encouraged your love of learning. And words can not describe the pride your father and I felt when you not only graduated from high school but you graduated at the top of your class ~ with a 4.0 average. Your hard work, dedication and focus are to be applauded. And I must give some credit to the many cans of tuna fish I consumed while pregnant with you.


You then went off to college, taking a piece of my heart with you. You excelled in so many ways. You have traveled to places I have only had the pleasure of reading about. You challenged yourself constantly. You were like a sponge soaking up as much knowledge as you possibly could during those college years. I am thankful that your father and I could give you the gift of education and we know that you appreciate it and have never taken it for granted. You have developed into an intelligent, compassionate member of society who gives back to others and who uses her brain to make the world a better place.


You are a risk taker which is obvious when one learns that you started your own business and have run it successfully for the past few years. You love a challenge and to problem solve. You are one of the most organized people that I know and on your next visit home maybe you can help me straighten out a few closets. Again.


And as you prepare for this next chapter in your life I just want you to know how proud your family is of you ~ always and forever ~ Mom. xo

20 comments:

Marg said...

Way to go Debbie. I'm all emotional. You have such a way with words and know how to support her in so many ways. How did we ever get here? I'm still wondering.
Congratulations on supporting her dreams and making them come true.
You have both been role models for your children....
Peace be with you both...
Let's go for hike and talk about all this stuff.

TSannie said...

We moms...always proud.

Willow said...

Congratulations to your daughter! My son is heading off in two weeks for graduate school. On this side of the continent. (Where is your daugther doing linguistics?)

Maggie May said...

What a lovely post and you are a very proud mum, rightly so.
Hope your daughter has many happy years at school!

Chapati said...

Haha, she sounds a bit like me!
Good luck to her, hope she enjoys it :-)

Elaine said...

What a beautiful letter. I can see why you are so very proud of her. x

Brian Miller said...

so sweet. got a bit of dirt in my eye there as well...smiles. moms are cool.

Daryl said...

I am smiling so big .. and I am sure, contrary to current belief, it was due to all those tuna sandwiches ...

Melissa said...

I am going to print out a copy of this and hang it near my desk! This was the best back to school present I've ever got!

I've had a rough week and have been thinking a lot about how for the most part, none of us tells anybody all the nice things about them or the stories about them that we love and I'm not sure why. I had just resolved to start working on that, and then I read this!

I AM very excited to start classes! I bought some shiny new folders yesterday, and today I get to pick up some of my textbooks! I may cheat a bit and start reading just a little bit...I don't know if I can wait until next week!

Beverly said...

Ah, a mother's heart.

How blessed you both are to have each other.

I'm so glad you shared this with us.

pink dogwood said...

This is so nice - thanks for sharing. Your daughter sounds awesome - so does her mom :)

Jeni said...

That's fantastic! By your description of your daughter, I'm sure she will not only whiz through her classes but enjoy every last minute of her graduate studies.

I agree wholeheartedly too on your ideas about education -and especially reading. With my older daughter, I ended up in huge feuds with our school system because she had a lot of reading problems. Even had her tested for hearing problems and they ran a battery of psychological tests too -which prompted the shrink to tell me I was the cause of her issues because I expected her to read as I had -early, fast and voraciously. I told him that I expected her to learn to read to the best of her ability -not to mine -and if she didn't learn to read properly, it would hinder her in every class because if you can't read -well, self-explanatory, isn't it? It's a long story what we went through with her and although she isn't a really "good" reader and not a fast one, she did learn to love books as do I and almost always has a book she is reading around some place.
Reading truly is fundamental, isn't it?

Akelamalu said...

What a lovely tribute to your daughter Deb. :)


I know exactly how you feel because my 33 year old son returned to University last year to complete his law degree he started 14 years ago!

Aren't they wonderful? :)

Kim Mailhot said...

Congratulations to you for a mothering job well done, Deb, and the woman's wisdom to celebrate it ! The best of luck to your daughter as she takes on her new adventures.
Cheers !

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Oh Deb. See...I've been reading all of my friends "first day of kindergarten" posts and they've been getting me all emotional ALL week. So once you got the the "30" part, I laughed and felt that surely I was home-free.

Well...I WASN'T!

What a beautiful thing you wrote here. Such lovely words and sentiments. I'm confident that I would just adore your daughter. Your love and admiration just shine through.

blueviolet said...

Well, I'm glad you stopped by today so I could meet you too!

I about died when I was reading along and saw that your daughter is in linguistics! Mine is too! She's starting her senior year this year majoring in linguistics, minoring in spanish. Next year she'll begin her masters as well.

It's so rare to come across another linguistics major. I like this!

I'm curious where your daughter is going and what type of linguistics she's honing in on. Mine is at OSU and is into computational linguistics. She's changed a few times but that seems to be where she's settling for now.

Shrinky said...

Such a wonderfully penned tribute of love and pride for your dearly precious and amazing daughter. She is a great tribute to her parents, I believe firmly in Karma - what goes around, comes around.. you are simply reaping the seeds of a job well done (speaking smugly as a mum with her eldest firmly tipped for Cambridge or Oxbridge next year)!

SandyCarlson said...

Good luck to your daughter! What a gal. I hope she gets a lot out of grad school.

You're quite a mom.

Louise said...

Congratulations to her. This is a beautiful tribute. Maybe I'll write something like that for my oldest daughter someday. (Except about the closets. So far I'm miles ahead of her on that score.)Reading DOES make a difference. (I'm not a huge fan of tuna sandwiches.)

imbeingheldhostage said...

Wow, did I love this post! I've been back reading... since you fell off the blogosphere ;-), but am SO glad I got to find this. What a beautiful letter, great post-- the whole thing. I just loved it (and yes, I will be checking those records to see how many, like you, gave birth at age one).

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