MY MOM WAS TRULY EXTRA-ORDINARY. When I was graduating from Grade School, there was a furor. There were talks that I would be graduating Class Valedictorian, and half of the public was not happy about it. I joined my school at 4th Grade, and some thought that it was not fair that my classmate, who had been First Honors of the class since Grade 1, would now be graduating Salutatorian.
The teachers were divided. Meeting after meeting was held to resolve the issue, and tension was rising among parents and teachers.
One day, my mother called me aside. She said: “When you go to school today, talk to your Class Adviser. Tell her to end the conflict. You do not have to be Valedictorian. Tell her it is okay if you graduate Salutatorian.”
Being the dutiful daughter that I was, I told my Class Adviser exactly what my mother said. I told her that it was okay for me to graduate Salutatorian.
It has been more than 30 years since, and I remember that incident like it were yesterday. I remember it even more distinctly whenever I hear stories of parents fighting with their child’s teachers about what grade their child should get, or what honors their child should receive at the end of the school year.
That incident taught me many things. It taught me that honors are not everything. It taught me humility and the value of sacrifice. And it taught me that my dignity and value as a person did not depend on my grades.
I also saw an important example on parenting. I saw a mother who valued her child for who she was, and not for the grades she got from school. I saw a mother who did not pick on trivial things like recognition or distinction, but someone who chose to emphasize the value of humility, someone who was willing to sacrifice personal gain in the name of peace. I also realized that my mother believed in my ability so completely that she did not find it necessary to seek validation from the public.
I carried those lessons throughout life, and those lessons have served me well to this day.
How many people are like my mother? Sadly, only a handful few. Most parents today would fight tooth and nail to get their children into the Honor Roll. They would spend money for tutor even if their child is doing well in class, and even if it meant that their child would be missing out on the fleeting joys of childhood because they would have to trade play time with study time. During my time, only those students who were failing in class were given tutors. Today, if a child has a tutor, it is most likely because their parents want them in the Honor Roll.
I graduated Class Valedictorian that year, but the things I learned in class, and which I got outstanding grades for, were nothing compared to the lessons I learned from my mother that day. My mother was not perfect, but if she were alive, she would certainly have a lot to teach the parents of today.