We often hear from teachers about the lack of involvement some parents have in their children’s life. This includes classes where many of the students no longer have both parents involved, parent teacher nights where two to three parents show up, or emails that go unanswered when there are critical situations that need to be addressed. Fortunately, I was not one of those children.There were many things that I was involved in growing up. I was a member of the band since middle school, participated in speech and oratorical contests, was a member of the 4-H, active in student government and a member of drama class to name a few. I cannot remember one single event where I would look out in the audience and not find my grandmother and mother sitting there. Their schedule worked around my schedule and there was never an excuse why they were too busy or simply couldn’t attend. Because they were always there, I think I took it for granted that it was just the norm.
I remember one particular instance where I had been selected to participate in the American Legion Oratorical contest. One of the requirements was that I had to deliver a speech, not from paper but memorized. I was having difficulty memorizing the speech and my grandmother sat with me and had me read it and recite it over and over. When she and I would go on our outings in the community she would even have me practice it with the people that we were visiting. Just when I thought I couldn’t study it any more she would have me recite again. One night it just clicked and I went on to win local, district, regional and placed second in the state. I remember one of our local members coming over to me after placing second and telling me how I had let them down by not winning. True to form, my grandmother and mother stepped in, delivered a few choice words of their own and let him know just how proud they were of my accomplishment. As he sheepishly wandered off, they turned what could have felt like a failure situation into a proud moment that still resonates with me today.
We sometimes forget that our actions have a lasting impact on how our children develop and feel about themselves. Early lessons give them a sense of confidence and purpose and set them on a path that will shape them later on in life. That is why I have been so passionate about having children involved in our program. I want them to learn early on the importance that seniors continue to play in our life and why it is so necessary for us to remember those that paved the way for us. Many would say that my grandmother was strict, and she was. We knew to behave, not to talk back, to be respectful and responsible. If that is being strict, then sign me up. Those lessons I learned early on made me the man I am today. Elders in our life have amazing guidance to give if we just take the time to listen. As children, we think we know it all. We don’t, and that is a lesson we sometimes learn too late.
Have a great day and remember to be the reason someone smiles.