This is the final column in a series describing life lessons learned since my own graduation. Last week my husband and I were proud parents at our daughter's high school graduation ceremony held at the Kress Center. While sitting in my seat waiting for the procession to begin, I naturally began to reminisce about her life.
Breanna is my first child born five weeks premature yet was healthy enough to come home with us the next day. She smiled so much as a baby my cheeks still hurt from smiling back at her. When she was 3 she comforted her parents when the family dog died unexpectedly, telling us everything was going to be OK.
Walking to school on her first day in kindergarten she made a wish on a dandelion puff. I assumed it was to make new friends or to have a nice teacher. A month later when I told her she was going to be a big sister, she joyfully told me her wish had come true because she wished for a baby brother or sister.
For her 6th birthday she didn't ask for a Barbie as I expected, but instead looked me right in the eye and said she wanted our family to join a church, which we did, of course. While on the playground at her elementary school she overheard two boys plotting to pick on another boy who was also her friend. She stopped them and said, "Our school has a zero tolerance policy and if you pick on him, I will report both of you!" The stunned boys walked away and left her friend alone.
In middle school she dragged a troubled classmate to the guidance counselor and did the same in high school. She joined clubs, attended dances, and babysat for a woman with Down Syndrome all while maintaining a high-honors student status. She also fell in love with music, joining the choirs at both her school and at church. In addition, for the last three years she has volunteered to give tours at the Hazelwood Historic House.
Let's not forget her incredible patience dealing with a deaf/blind mother and sometimes having to parent her younger brother but not forgetting to be his sister.
When my father-in-law passed away after a long illness, my husband was worried because our daughter didn't appear to be grieving. She explained to him that she was going to miss her grandfather but was glad he was no longer suffering.
Watching with pride as my daughter received her diploma, I feel as though I have learned more life lessons from her than she has from me. While her dad and I did our best to raise her, I want to personally thank her teachers because they must have been good role models. Next fall she will attend college to pursue a degree in a profession she has wanted to be in since kindergarten. Her dream is to be a teacher.
Congratulations, Breanna, and to all 2013 graduates.