Growth You Can’t Measure

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One of our son’s best friends had a growth spurt last week.  Many people may not notice because vertically, Cameron is the same exact size. A lanky 5 foot 10 inch 7th grader with an easygoing gait and a perpetually ready smile.

Cameron’s height did not change, but his confidence shot up and his responsibilities grew.

You have to have nerves of steel to run for class president in middle school.  Opening yourself up for (perceived) rejection, failure, or embarrassment makes it that much harder since all the candidates and their constituents are suffering from chronic puberty.

Definitely one of my favorite parts of being a parent has to be watching not only my own kids grow, but witnessing the astounding growth of their friends. Rooting for them as they navigate their way through the maze from childhood to adulthood.

Cameron, along with the other kids running, came up with a slogan, hung posters and prepared a speech.

A big step in the election was candidates’ speeches. Cameron was nervous as he began.  Despite the uneasiness which began to envelop him, causing him to stumble on words, and lose his train of thought a few times, Cameron made it through to the end.  He got the most important message across as when he said, “I will listen to every concern you have” and “I will be your voice.”

He got in his mom’s car at the end of the day with an overwhelming feeling that he’d blown it.  Big time.

Only a parent can actually physically feel the pain their child experiences when he feels like he’s failed.

Two days later, the results were announced.

Cameron won the election. He is officially the president of the 7th grade.

What Cameron didn’t realize when he thought he failed at delivering his speech was that his victory started long before that moment. The kids in the audience who have known Cameron for years, were already are familiar with his platform. He stands for kindness to all and being yourself. His voting record preceded him: pro-laughter, anti-conceit. Cameron, never one to get caught up in his ratings with other people, does not adjust his personality according to who he is with.

We old folks have a word for that: Integrity.

People notice and remember a kind word, a pat on the back, a helpful hand, a generous act more than they remember one poorly delivered speech.  So when Cameron said, “I will listen to every concern you have” and “I will be your voice,” the kids had good reason to believe Cameron meant what he said.

And now, leading his fellow 7th graders, Cameron will be working with others, making decisions, executing his plans, talking in front of people, meeting with the head of school. … Why, he’ll be growing like a regular weed.

It is always amazing how much kids grow from year to year. The inches and pounds are fun to watch, but more compelling is the maturing of a child’s character.  The willingness to take a risk, go out on a limb, and try something new.  Risk taking is like Wheaties for the spirit.  Keeps you growing strong and healthy.

Upon further reflection, I would like to I retract my original statement regarding Cameron’s recent spurt.  I think that in fact he may have grown vertically after all.

He is holding his head a bit higher these days.

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