My youngest child left home this year to go to the University of Waterloo for the honours Math program.
Every one of my children has taught me something and one of the things that this child taught me was, don't get hung up on what others think be who you are and want to be .
When Grace was very little I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. I was thinking she would say something like teacher, police woman maybe even princess. My little girl looked at me and said "I want to be a dragon!" I was a little taken back by this and so said "but what are you going to do?" Grace looked at me as though I didn't really understand the way things worked and said, "I'm going to Breath Fire!" Grace took my question at face value; what do you want to be, not what career do you see yourself having. She let her imagination go and ending up flying and breathing fire. She did not let the constraints of this world hold her down.
Around the same time she started to refuse to wear dresses. You can't do somersaults and hang upside down on the monkey bars in a dress. Throughout grade school she had her own sense of style, it had nothing to do with what was cool or pretty. It was all about comfort and what made her feel good. She hung out more with the boys for a long time because "all the girls wanted to do was talk about boring stuff". If a child was catty or mean to Grace she would just move on, why waste time on that kind of thing. Good lesson.
Grace has always had a quirky sense of humour. Her grade 2 teacher told me that one day the back of Grace's chair came off as she tried to pull it out from under her desk. Grace laughed and laughed at that. (Sometimes you just have to laugh at little mishaps.)
When Grace started High School she met what Anne Shirley would have called "a kindred spirit" in a boy named Geoffrey. Grace and Geoffrey hit it off really quickly. It wasn't long before teachers were mentioning their friendship to me. Geoffrey was also someone who didn't take others opinion of himself too seriously. He had a quirky sense of humour and his own sense of style. I started to hear his name daily from Grace. She was really happy with this friendship. I would say that grade nine was the happiest school year that Grace had ever had. That summer Geoffrey got sick, was admitted to Sick Kids in T.O. and then passed away. Grace, who was always quiet got quieter, she clung to her father, she slept a lot. It was the hardest thing I've ever gone through with one of my children, her sorrow was mine. After a while Grace came to us and told us she needed to do something and she had decided to shave her head, donate the hair to make wigs and raise money for Cancer research but she wanted some help. Pete called the Canadian Cancer Society and got the sponsor sheets and other items needed for such a campaign. Grace worked tirelessly to raise the money. She canvassed the neighbourhood, the school and she spent two weekends at the local grocery store. Our community was amazing and in the end Grace raised over $8,000. The people at the cancer society told us that was the most that anyone had ever raised with a head shaving campaign. It didn't change the fact that Geoffrey was gone, or that those who loved him missed him and always would. It spoke volumes about one boy's impact on the people around him.
My girl is off at school doing one of the things she loves, Math. I don't really get it. I have always been a words person, but my girl loves numbers and what you can do with them. In high school she started a comic called Doctor Math. It became a tradition of hers to draw a Doctor Math comic at the end of all her math tests and assignments She has carried that tradition on into first year university. I can appreciate them but admit that I don't get them. My daughter has grown and she has a life all her own.