Yesterday, Adam (the 14 year old) and I made the three hour trek to Santa Clara University to attend a special ceremony. Adam was honored by the John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY) as one of the highest scorers on their recent talent search testing. To be considered for this award, Adam and his fellow recipients had to take either the ACT or the SAT (yes, the college exam!) and be in the top percentages.
I was anxious to make the drive with Adam and to make this a special day for him, recognizing all of his diligent work. At the event, the keynote speaker was Dr. William Greenwalt, Director of the Honors Program and Classics Professor at Santa Clara. Dr. Greenwalt gave a stirring speech, aimed at encouraging the honorees to live up to their incredible, God given (and yes, he said “God given”) potential. He urged them to maintain a “childlike sense of wonder”, never ceasing to look at the world in amazement. “Don’t be afraid of failure,” he encouraged the kids, citing Ty Cobbs’ 367 lifetime batting average as proof that sometimes we have to fail on the path to success.
I was most moved during Dr. Greenwalt’s address by his comments to the parents. “Do not live vicariously through your children,” he warned us. I looked around me at a room filled with incredibly high achieving junior high students and knew that he had a few of us pegged! It’s always such a temptation, especially as a stay at home mom, to falsely tie up our identities in those of our children. After all, didn’t I play some small part in Adam’s accomplishments by driving him around so much?! Although I jest, I felt reminded by Dr. Greenwalt’s remarks to always make sure that Eric and Adam know constantly how incredibly proud I am of them. Sure, awards and recognition are nice, but it is the quality of their character — day in and day out — that leaves my heart swelling with love.
The event’s host, Jan Coleman-Knight of Johns Hopkins, informed the students in the audience that the founders of Google and Facebook had both been past CTY award recipients – so Adam is in good company. It was nice to spend the day around such a well mannered and inspirational group of students. After we had picked up Adam’s award and dined together at PF Changs, we began the long drive home. The road trip is one we’ll both remember for a long time – Adam continues to teach me life lessons every day of my life, and for that I’m quite grateful!