What a big weekend for my now 14 year old son, Payton. He turned 14 on Friday, and this morning he had an interview at Serra High School (whose alumni are very impressive, see the end of this post for a list) as the last step in the admissions process. There are over 500 kids applying for 258 spots. He spent about 10 minutes being interviewed 1 on 1 and then Dan and I came in for another 10-15 minutes. This is kind of a tricky process for us as Serra is an all-boys Catholic school and we aren't Catholic (back in the day, I was baptized Catholic, but it was literally a back-door baptism as my Mom was a 17 year old unwed mother and especially back in the '60's in the mid-west, that was highly frowned upon.).
Although they say that you don't have to be Catholic to attend Serra, you know it helps. On the application, we had to write about what we were doing for the spiritual growth of our kids since we weren't attending any church. That required some real introspection on my part since we haven't necessarily made a point to foster a spiritual side of our kids, but as I thought about it, I found that we did, in fact, in our own way, teach our children to be mindful of their place in this world, to "do unto others...", to be giving, caring, thoughtful, respectful, and to understand that they are a part of a large community that we call the Earth. They know all about Karma and have seen it in action. They know that character is how you behave when you think that nobody is watching.
Which brings me to the BIG lesson that Payton learned today. The man that interviewed him used to be a teacher at the middle school that he attends. The teacher remembered him from when he was in the 5th and 6th grade. He didn't teach him in class, but he knew him from the time he had "playground duty." He said that he remembered Payton as being a good kid who followed the rules and looked out for some of other kids (Payton has always been in that "cool jock" group and has been in a unique position to be a role model at an early age). As we walked out of the interview and back to the car, I asked Payton how well he knew the teacher and he said that he remembered him but didn't know him that well. I couldn't help but point out the fact that his behavior and his attitude 2 or 3 years ago was watched by someone without him really knowing about it, and that because he was a good kid, and treated people well (which for a 10-11 year old boy out on the playground is not necessarily the norm), he was now reaping the rewards. I said, "Payton, you never know how your actions today will effect your future. You just learned that by just being a good kid a couple of years ago, your interview was off to a good start before you ever even opened your mouth. That teacher remembered you, and had a high opinion of you, and now that is going to possibly get something that you really want."
What a HUGE lesson to learn and to see come to fruition right in front of his eyes. I big Mom **sigh** moment for me. And a big moment for Payton. He did really well during the rest of the interview, he smiled, he looked the interviewer right in the eyes, he was articulate and passionate about why he was there.
From there we went to Big 5 to get him cleats and sliding pants for baseball tryouts today. Like I said, it's a big day for him, one that could weigh heavily on his self-confidence. The first part went well, and gave him confidence going into tryouts. My son, how you are turning into a beautiful, self-sufficient young man who is tackling all that life puts before you. You make my heart weep with joy and admiration.
To both of my son's, I would like to quote my favorite author, Maya Angelou:
Because you are who you are, I have never had to exaggerate. I just tell the truth: I have the most wonderful son in the world.
All night tonight and all day tomorrow, including the Superbowl, I will have a house full of 14 year old boys (about 8-10 of them at any given time) helping Payton celebrate his birthday. I tend to only get religious during times like these. Lord, grant me the strength and the wisdom...and if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. If I shall live through the night, I pray that there is enough tequila in the house to get me through tomorrow!
Professional Athletes - Barry Bonds, Tom Brady, Lynnn Swan, Greg Jeffries,
President and CEO Trader Joe’s, John Sheilds
New York Times Editor and Pulitzer Prize Winner, William Keller