Striving for Wow

Nov 23, 2009

My daughter’s 2nd grade class has a behavioral system. There are certain color levels each student can reach during the day, with each kid starting the day on the “good” color of green. Depending on how they act, they may go up or down to the various colors. Yellow, blue, and red, I believe, aren’t ones you want your child to end up on. (Fortunately, we haven’t had to deal with those colors yet this year.) The goal each day, though, is purple. That color is called “Wow.”

According to Jordan’s teacher, in order to earn “Wow” a student has to do something extraordinary that day – whether it be helping another student, or doing really well at an assignment or being the only one to obey the teacher. Fortunately, Jordan has come home about 5 or 6 times this year having earned the purple level.

After school one day last week, as Jordan was sitting at our kitchen counter eating her snack, we chatted about her day.

“Guess who got ‘Wow’ today?” she asked me, in a sing-songy voice.

“Who?” I said, trying to act confused. After all, I was sure, by the way she said it, it must be her.

“I’ll give you a hint,” she said. “Their name begins with the letter ‘C.’”

The letter C? Now, that threw me for a loop.

“I don’t know . . .” I said, wondering if she could possibly be misspelling her own name, in which case, we had a big problem on our hands.

“I’ll give you another hint,” she said. “It’s like the show ‘I-someone.”

I-someone? What was she talking about?

“I honestly don’t know Jordan.” I told her.

“Carly!” she said, all excited. “Carly got ‘Wow’ today.”

Hmmm. This was interesting. I’d never heard of Carly before. But, I did understand now she had been giving me the hint in reference to the Disney show, “I Carly.”

Jordan just kept smiling as she ate her cookie.

“And, this is a good thing?” I asked.

“It’s great!” Jordan said, full of enthusiasm.

“Really? Why?” I asked her, curious about why some other child reaching ‘Wow’ was causing my daughter to be so delighted.

“Because, Carly has never reached ‘Wow’ before and she really wanted to. And then, today, she did!”

“And, so you’re happy for her?”

“Yes. I want everyone to get reach ‘Wow’ at least once. It’s really exciting.”

And, I have to say, it was at that moment I fell in love with my daughter all over again.

Because, honestly, isn’t that the attitude we all should have? Isn’t that the mental outlook I, personally, should have all day, every day? Happy when I succeed at something, but just as excited when someone else does, too?

It made me stop and think about myself. I don’t usually view myself as a jealous person. That’s one vice I have never really struggled with. But, on the other hand, am I genuinely thrilled when someone else succeeds at something for which I, myself, am striving? I honestly couldn’t answer that question. Or, maybe I could answer it, but I didn’t like the response.

Yet, here sat my all-of-seven-years-old daughter, demonstrating an incredibly mature level of empathy and love for another person. I would have liked to take credit for her compassion, but I wasn’t sure I was deserving of it. I honestly think that that is just who Jordan is – who she has been since the day she was born.

And I’m the lucky one who gets to learn from her.

If I could have, I would have moved her to "Wow" just for that.

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