If you can give your son or daughter only one gift,
let it be enthusiasm.
Over the years I have been called upon to cheer my daughter over the finish line, and pump her full of confidence. Weneki is a can-do girl who likes to make things happen her own way. Most every project she starts she finishes, on her own timeline. However she oftens needs a little motivation along the way.
That's where I come in. I've gotten pretty good at listening to her cry, then encouraging her to trust her own abilities and take the first step. When she was little we often read "The Little Engine That Could" by by Watty Piper, George Hauman, and Doris Hauman. I think we had both the original hardback version and the Golden Book in our library.
"I think I can. I think I can. I think I can" has long been one of Weneki's mantras. Or maybe I should say it's been one of my mantras for her!
When I mentioned before that Weneki likes to do things in her own sweet time what I actually meant was that she is a world champion procrastinator. She has a well-developed ability to put off writing papers or working on a major project till the last minute. Somehow after an all-nighter of hard work on her part and many prayers for a miracle on mine she completes that assigned task. She's been working from this same script for as long as I can remember. I think she must have gotten it from her father's gene pool!
Dr. Phil might ask how's this working for you? And Weneki might answer, so far so good. I, on the other hand, would probably give a different answer all together. Something along the lines of "she needs therapy!" When Weneki was in college, just before she gave in to the pressure and began an assignment she would call me, dump all her built-up anxiety, get the aforementioned pep talk, hang up the phone and get to work. Since the assignment was hers, not mine I usually got to keep the anxiety.
I remember clearly the night I thought I was going to have to drive from San Diego to Los Angeles to pick her up from school. She was a freshman and had not yet perfected her system. I truly thought she was having a breakdown. I was ready to pull the mom card and insist she stay home with me where she belonged. Who needs a college education anyway? I paced the floor. I considered calling my sister to act as a surrogate mother. I considered calling a medical clinic for an intervention.
It proved to be a long night for both of us. I was bone weary the next morning. When I called to check on her progress and to remind her to have a suitcase packed so she'd be ready when I got there the phone rang off the hook. No one answered. Damn! I knew I should have called the campus security office. I continued to call off and on during the next day or two. Finally Miss Weneki picked up the ringing phone and told me she'd been celebrating. Celebrating? I asked just a tad incredulous. What was there to celebrate? That she was a nutcase who had to drop out of school because she didn't know how to manage her time.
It's been a few years since this incident occurred and I'm sure I said it with more diplomacy and tact than that, but I can assure you that is exactly what I was thinking. As it turned out my daughter finished her paper on time, turned it in and quickly forgot all about her mother who was waiting in the wings to swoop in and rescue her from life. This scenario was replayed several more times over the course of her college career. I got to where I could just listen, not panic and remind her of the Golden Book's magic words ... I think I can, etc.
In January Weneki enrolled in a 9-month class to study project management. (I know, it is a little ironic. In her favor, I must say that when it comes to things other than house cleaning my daughter has learned not to procrastinate quite so long.) Let me just say it's been a rough nine months. Back in April, I was considering reprising the pack-your-suitcase-I'll-be-right-there speech. In July I was seriously concerned about her physical and mental health. Last week, I detected a desire to be done with the class but very little performance anxiety. This I thought was a major improvement.
Last night I got the call. "I'm done," she exclaimed with well-deserved pride.
"Whoohoo" I cheered, noticing that I suddenly felt a weight off my shoulders!
Now you might think that this woman child that makes me so proud would be content to rest on her laurels. I'd have to tell you to think again! As if going back to college wasn't challenge enough Weneki also started training for a mini-triathalon at the beginning of the year. Next Sunday there I'll be standing on the side of road with a bag of oranges, some Gatorade and a big ol' sign that says:
I know you can. I know you can.
Once a mother, always a mother.
P.S. Weneki has been awarded her 2nd Merry ME You Rock Award for Excellence. The first one was mainly because I think she's the rockingest rocker I know! A mother's perogative. This one is for stepping out of her comfort zone, sticking to her goal(s) and finishing her class.