The Gift That I Needed

Yesterday, I was doing some work for school, and the phone rang. The caller id said, “Janesville”.  There is not anyone in Janesville that we know, so it was probably a solicitation, but I picked it up anyway.  I have been getting better at saying no, no thank  you, to solicitors, but am also guilty of just letting the call go to voice mail. But, for some reason I answered.

The voice was familiar, “Mom, Mom, is that you? I am calling from Building Wealth. I forgot my phone at home today, so I am using Sully’s. I just need to read you something I wrote for an assignment.” His voice was deep and gravely, cracking as his spoke in a slightly rushed cadence.  Sully was the nickname for his teacher.  Matt really liked him and seemed to be getting a great deal out of this class called Building Wealth.

“Matthew?” I replied.  “You scared me! I wondered what you were doing in Janesville, because that is what the caller id said.”

“No, mom. I am at school. Like I said, I am using Sully’s phone since I forgot mine at home today.  We had an assignment where we had to pick someone who has influenced our life the most, and write about it. I picked you and dad.” Again, his voice cracked. He was very emotional. “Now, I am supposed to read you what I wrote.”

“Uh, okay. Is your whole class doing this right now?” I asked him.

“Yes”, Matt replied. “We are all on phones talking to the people we wrote about. “We are all emotional. It was kind of the point of the assignment.”

So, for the next several minutes – at least five – I just listened as my son, a senior in high school, read his passage to me through tears, with a cracking voice. He thanked us. He told us how he appreciated what we have been able to give him through our hard work. He told me how he knew I had sacrificed a career to stay home.  He hoped he could do as good a job as we have done when “his turn came.”  He had learned from us. He loves us. He was grateful to have us as parents.  I was speechless, and just listened, soaking in each word, and every sentence, as silent tears of joy and gratitude streamed down my face, leaving wet dots splashed on the couch.

By the end, we were both blubbering fools.  What a gift we just received!  It was exactly what I needed to hear, at exactly the right time. For we all know parenting, at times, is very difficult. Recently, it had been one of those times for me.

Later, he told us that the Building Wealth course, has not really been about getting rich, like all the students thought when they signed up for it.  It is about finding what makes you happy, about gratitude, about living with tolerance and not making assumptions about others. It has been about values, and belief systems, and a self-examination for each student about what makes them tick. It is about making choices, preparing for college and/or the work force through things such as mock job interviews. It has been one of the best courses my son has taken in high school. And, it is not only because he likes the teacher; it is because it is filled with critical thinking, and thinking about intangibles – not just content. The course is applicable for all students and helps them to apply what they have learned, both at school and at home, to their future selves. It is a course about thinking. Thinking about life.

Yesterday, I got the best present a parent could ask for – words of love, gratitude, and respect from one of our children.  Yes, we are wealthy, indeed! We all know parenting is hard. This validation, especially coming from a teen, has warmed my heart in ways he will not understand for many years. But, I am deeply grateful to him and to this class for helping students to focus on long-term, healthy habits of adulthood.



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