A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook how proud she was of her kids. Not that they had won awards or had perfect GPA’s, but that they were awesome people who have endured a lot of shit in their young lives.
I have a whole different post about why I think traditional school grades are bullshit. For the record, fabulous test scores are no reflection of what kind of human being you are. Psychopaths can be brilliant, but you wouldn’t want to marry one.
My oldest daughter recently took the speaking portion of her German exam. Not only has she learned to speak German in this intensive course, but she has gotten to know people from Mexico, Greece, Iran, China, Syria, and half a dozen other countries.
This is an education worth far more than a 4.0 GPA. My daughter worked diligently for five months to reach this first step that will lead her to a German university. Best of all, this is her idea — her dream, and she’s achieving it every time her alarm goes off. She is a strong woman, and compassionate to a fault. Whether it’s working forty hours a week at theater or two hours of corralling toddlers for an exhausted mom, my daughter gives her all.
Almost two years ago, my oldest son set off at age 17 to make a life for himself. He saw a new part of the world, including America, a land in which he was not raised. Because we had homeschooled while living abroad, he found himself lacking particular documents needed for things like drivers’ licenses and higher education. So he buckled down, got a GED and a certification to work as a nursing assistant. He does work most would cringe at, in order to put himself through college. He is an artistically talented man with an open, creative mind and a sense of humor that makes you groan and laugh at the same time.
Two years ago, I dropped my youngest two into a German school. Two formerly homeschooled kids, from an ultra-conservative background (think Duggars without the incest), were tossed into a system where the tick of a teacher’s pen determines your future. If you have a teacher who hates you, then you have to fight for every point on every paper she marks. It means the difference between becoming an architect or a janitor.
Yet, I know what kind of people my kids are. When my youngest daughter says she wants to be a film actress, she will do it. She was born fearless — always climbing to the highest rung, even before she could walk. My youngest son has charm combined with a mind that never stops asking questions. It gives him empathy, and a depth even I can’t follow sometimes.
At first, I set the bar high for them, but now they are setting it for themselves.
Their dreams are not the dreams I had for them when they were little (I mean, could we PLEASE have one person trained to diagnose diseases or prescribe medicine?) — they have amazingly unique dreams, as amazing and unique as each of them.
I can’t stand in their way. If anything, it’s my job to aid and abed my kids in their untraditional pursuits.
My god, these kids I have can do anything they want, as long as THEY desire it.
The two youngest got their grades back for this year, and what impressed me was not that their grades were satisfactory, it was that they worked their asses off.
I remember the first school principal said what a challenge it would be for them, and he encouraged me to find an English-speaking school.
Despite some terrible teachers and re-starting at a new school, my kids got grades on par with kids who have spoken this language since they were born. These incredible kids who call me Mom endured a 180 degree turn of lifestyle with humor, some depression, but with positivity for the future.
I am proud of my kids because they can overcome situations that would make most of us curl up and cry. They have learned about cultures that were alien to them when we lived in our little bubble. They waded hip-deep through trauma, and emerged as funny, compassionate, happy people.
They are free to explore who they really are and are secure enough to tell me anything.
As a parent, that is a gift, worth more than any report card.
Despite my kids’ upbringing in in a cult-like existence, where God kept a “naughty” and “nice” list, marking every thought and action, my children are awesome human beings. They can do shit that is hard. They can make their dreams come true. They can live in this world with both confidence and compassion.
This is why I’m proud.
They are good people.
They work hard.
They love deeply.
They make the world a better place.