Saturday, June 5, 2010

From "high F's" to Dean's List

I cannot believe my youngest has graduated from college. Throughout the last couple of months as we were preparing ourselves, I've been feeling so very old. This achievement ages you mentally. It is this "thing" that hangs over you. I'm reminded of a scene from "When Harry Met Sally" where Sally is contemplating turning 40. She is crying and stressing about the fact that she's not married, not in a relationship and is turning 40. Yet in the scene, Harry points out that she won't be 40 for eight more years. "But it's there. It's just sitting there." That is, in fact, how I had been feeling in the months prior to graduation.

While dealing with her impending graduation, I also was facing a visit from relatives who wanted to see the graduate. So the house was flipped upside down. There was a dumpster. There was plumbing and flooring. There was furniture. There was carpet cleaning. There was one mayhem disaster after another. We got it done just in time for graduation and our out of town guests. We had a week of visiting with my parents and my brother from Florida. And it was a distraction from the fact that my college graduate felt the need to attend college and graduate simply just to make me age even more. Whatever, Kelly!

It's been busy. It's been emotional. There have been some proud moments, and yet this has also been a real eye opening time for me.

My youngest was not a student. From the time she was young, she was a lazy student. We heard it from teachers when she was very young. "She has such potential. If she would only apply herself." And as the years went on, we saw the ups and downs of her grades. I always thought we should have pushed her more, but yet I was not a good student either. I went the route of treating her as I would have liked to have been treated. Wrong or right, it was the choice we made.

In doing renovations for our impending guests, we were removing the bathroom cabinet when lurking in the back of the cabinet, stuffed down between the wall and the cabinet, we found an open envelope, the contents of which was a progress report from October of 2004 showcasing two F+ grades in the making.

See Exhibit #1 - photo of just how nicely stuffed this progress report was . . . and imagine it behind bottles of cleaning supplies, bags of toiletries, etc.).

An F+ . . . I had know idea such a grade existed (mind you, that's a high F). I lived through many a progress report with some pretty lousy grades, so I'm not sure why Kelly felt the need to hide this particular report. Perhaps I should appreciate that I didn't have to open and it and get all stressed about it.

Fast forward to the Winter of 2006 when she is accepted to Hillyer College, which is a two year college at University of Hartford. They offered her a shot for two years which she could turn into a four year program if she did well. We were skeptical. The price tag was high for a student who "didn't apply herself."

Fast forward . . . June of 2006 . . . she graduates high school . . . probably barely squeaking by. At this point, I'm kind of thankful to have public school behind me.

Fast forward . . . August 2006 . . . she moves into the dormitory at University of Hartford and attends Hillyer College. She seems to be doing o.k., has trouble with one course that needs to be above a certain grade. She takes it upon herself to retake the class in the end of the Summer of 2007.

Fast forward a bit more . . . May 2008. My daughter has an Associates Degree from Hillyer College and earns the opportunity to continue her education at the College of Arts and Sciences at University of Hartford.

Fast forward again to May 16, 2010. It is graduation day. We attend graduation with our family . . . and celebrate both Kelly and my nephew Joe's graduation from University of Hartford. As I'm going through some mail a few days later, we (the parents of Kelly Bonczek) had received a note from the Dean of Hillyer College. In the letter, he mentioned how proud they were of Kel, that she used her two-year degree as a step toward more challenging goals.

For this revelation, I must quote . . . "You and the faculty at Hillyer saw that untapped potential."

I have to say, I felt a little bit of guilt. I'm not sure that we saw that untapped potential. We heard about it from elementary school, junior high, and high school teachers and counselors. I know that we hoped for it, but I don't know that we recognized it. A simple two paragraph letter from a stranger made me stop and realize that I had not given my own daughter enough credit. Years of teacher conferences and progress reports had tainted me from believing in my own daughter's capabilities.

See Exhibit #2 - photo of my college graduate. From the "high F's" stuffed in the back of the cabinet, to making the Dean's List for the Spring 2010 semester . . . talk about a steady, uphill climb.

Congrats to my Grad and kudos for proving me wrong. We are so incredibly proud of you.

Now, for Exhibit #3 - photo of my college graduate with my future college graduate. She is my oldest. There will be another whole revelation that will be discussed when she graduates. I will be admitting more of my faults as I express how proud I am of her. But that I save for another day.

And now, I will be moving on to being creative again. I've got some things up my sleeve, and I've got a lot of graduation pages to make! I've got some quilting to do. I've got some cards to make. I've got new stamps and lots of new inks. I've got glitter. I've got plans.

Stay tuned.