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