Yesterday marked my first official parent-teacher conference as an actual father (yes, I had one for my daughter when she was in 4k, but that felt more like a daycare update, and yes, I had one as the legal guardian for my sister…which was just plain weird). Yup, my little girl’s been in kindergarten for a couple months now (not even) and that means they need to stop everything they’re doing entirely, close down the school, just to tell me how she’s handling the adjustment to real school.
Turns out, my kid’s already a genius. They were talking about enrolling her in college next year, depending on if we could get the scholarships together fast enough, which they were totally believing we could.
Okay, so, maybe not that, but I did get to feel a great deal of pride as my little girl was given marks of “above average” and “well-above average”. Sure, I mean, these things were just marking her ability to count, differentiate quantities, and repeat things, so it’s not like they were actually measuring her ability to perform surgery on a rocket or anything, but I got what I needed to know (and honestly already knew): I was told my daughter was one smart cookie.
It’s an odd feeling to sit in a chair and be told such things by a teacher…I don’t know…I remember when I was talked to by teachers, it was generally that I wasn’t living up to my potential…or at least that’s what I remember. Here, I was expecting the hammer to drop, telling me how that even though my little girl was doing quite well, adjusting perfectly, and whatever else, that she still just wasn’t good enough. Now, obviously, there were the couple of items that came up that she could be working on…things that I have to admit, probably come from my side of the gene pool…things like rushing through work is definitely one of the things I heard about from my teachers (and was well aware of) about my own schooling.
But I got to feel proud, got to beam a little even, as I was given official proof that I hadn’t completely failed as a father. My daughter is ahead of the pack, meaning I must have been giving her just enough attention to make her not a terrible kid…or…you know…maybe she just got some good DNA from somewhere…who knows.
I mean, I’m not bragging or anything (I’m totally bragging), but my little kindergartner is already on track to be the next Doogie Howser (says me and absolutely no one else…possibly because no one remembers Doogie Howser anymore).
For serious, though…fatherly pride is an odd feeling. There’s a certain amount of personal pride that gets joined in with the pride in your child’s work…almost as if you actually had something to do with it, even though your contributions are probably quite minimal when it really comes down to the crux for success. It’s almost like someone’s telling you that you were the one who can count to 100 at the top of her class.
And it feels pretty damned good, to be completely honest.
But all comments about the oddness of fatherly pride aside, I’m really proud of my little girl. Over the past five years, she’s really put a focus on trying to get herself better at everything she puts her mind to…which is pretty much everything. She’s aided, in part, by an amazingly awesome memory, but even beside that, she will dedicate herself to any task that she recognizes she could be better at…something that took me nearly 30 years to do myself. If she finds something that she’s not doing as well as others, she tries and tries and tries until she ultimately conquers it.
Speaking of conquering…that kid ain’t afraid of much either, but when she is, I’m constantly amazed as how capable she is of facing that fear. I’ve talked before about how she conquered the freefall ride called The Tower of Terror at Disney World in Florida and how, although she was completely terrified by the event, expressed interest in riding it again and again (although didn’t quite make it there). But just last night, at swimming lessons, they went over to the deep side of the pool for the first time, the side with the diving board. The instructor kept them close, but left them to their own devices, keeping them afloat with life jackets, but requiring them to move themselves through the water.
And then he told them that it was time to jump off the diving board.
To hear my daughter tell the story, she was almost frozen in fear as she stood on the diving board about to jump without anyone below to catch her. She states that she almost turned around and decided not to go, that it was one of the scariest things she’s ever faced.
To watch from the sidelines, that moment of hesitation wasn’t even a visible amount of time. She got up there and walked to the edge and jumped in…and then swam faster than she had to date in order to get up on that board and go again.
My daughter is, quite often, the person I wish I could be, able to face those fears without question, constantly working to better herself, and ultimately succeeding in many ways. Sure, there are times when she falters, but hell, she’s five. I falter constantly and I’m almost thirty years older than her. I often feel that sense of fatherly pride for my daughter, that includes pride for my own involvement in helping her become who she is…but then I recognize that I often aspire to be more like my daughter.
Of course… I don’t want to leave the boy out of the equation. Sure, he’s just three, and he’s a much more fearful kid who is much less interested in bettering himself than he is about doing sweet air kicks (which reminds me more of myself). He’s a little me who is currently struggling with his emotions. But watching him grow and attempt to deal with his own struggles has also been impressive…and I’m sure it will get even more so as time continues. And heck…that kid has always been much more afraid of everything than his sister, so when I tell you that he faces his fears, you can know that his fears are all-consuming items that are likely to cause him to lose control of his bowels…he’s a scared little kid who fights the urge to allow his fear to take over him every day. And I’m mighty proud of that as well.
Speaking of fears…I’m going to have a Q&A Skype session with a group of 8-10 year olds about the writing process today…I’m only a little bit anxious about it all…I have a feeling I’m going to learn a lot more from the experience than they will 😉
Have fun out there!