Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Jackson's Confidence

Yesterday I wrote about Jackson’s meeting with a professor of meteorology… and that it is his ultimate dream to become a meteorologist and a storm chaser. 

Yesterday was his first day of his first college class.  We arrived to the campus 20 minutes early not knowing exactly where the class was.   The administration office had no idea where the classes were being held either.  They only knew the building, so they called 2 golf carts to escort us to the science building.

Once at the science building, all 6 kids and I went up and down the stairs about 5 times looking for the right room.  On our final ascent up the stairs, we found the room. 

Jackson looked into the room and turned to me with surprise, excitement, and confidence.  He said, “I had a dream about this room!”  The room was different than any of the other rooms we had seen.  It was built on tiered levels, and the teacher stood at the bottom level right near the front door.

Jackson has told me about dreams he’s had in the past, and immediately all was confirmed in both of our minds that this would be an amazing and pivotal moment in Jackson’s young life.

After searching extra long for the right classroom, we ended up being 3 minutes late.  Because the door to enter was at the front, I told Jackson not to interrupt the class; he would just have to start his class on Wednesday.

We decided we would get familiar with the campus with our extra time. Right before we were about to leave the hallway, I saw 3 other students hurriedly entering Jackson’s classroom. 

Without any warning and without any prep time with Jackson to tell him what to do or where to go, I quickly grabbed him by the shirt and said, “Run!  Go in with those kids!”  (Those kids were not actually kids.)  Jackson confidently walked into the room full of grown college students.

At first he stood at the back of the classroom.  I think he wasn’t sure if he was allowed to sit wherever he wanted.  I was visible to the other students from the window; so as discreetly as I could, I motioned for him to take a seat wherever he wanted. 

He sat down and pulled out his notebook.  What a strange feeling to watch your innocent 12-year old sit amongst such big kids.  I casually walked by the window a few more times to check on him.  He was doing great!! 

After feeling satisfied that he was ok, the other kids and I went outside to sit on the grass and wait.  After class I wanted every detail about Jackson's first college experience.  He told me the professor was talking about research papers that they would be working on in groups.  Since Jackson is only auditing the class, I asked him if he was going to do one as well.  With all the confidence in the world, Jackson said, “Yeah.  There are a couple of kids in there that I think I’ll meet up with, so we can work on that together.”  I reminded Jackson that he was just auditing this class, so he couldn’t do that.  However, I was mostly impressed that he was confident enough to feel like he could be a great team member with other students 6-9 years older than him!

Then he told me there was a student who presented his research topic to the class.  Jackson told me he had already studied that topic and wanted to answer his research question for him.  He chose to keep quiet in class; but again, I was grateful for his confidence in his knowledge.  If I were in his position, I think I would have assumed that these other students would know way more than I did.    

I always hoped for my children to be more confident than I was.  I appeared confident, but I always worried about what was happening around me.  The entire reason I decided to home school was because I watched Jackson in kindergarten.  The teacher kept telling me she was concerned because of how different Jackson was.  With every concern she had, I asked, “Is he obedient and respectful?”  “Yes.”  She answered every time.  I questioned again, “Is he doing anything to bother the other students?’ “No. He’s really kind.”  She answered.  "Is he doing well in class?"  She answered, "Yes… he's just different than the other kids."

I told her I wasn’t worried about him being different.  That was when I decided to home school my “different” child.  I wanted him to be CONFIDENT with his differences and never change who he was.  God made him different, and I was absolutely ok with that!  I understood why his kindergarten teacher expressed concern.  In the public school system, it’s easier if everyone is the same.  They have a lot of kids to teach!!  I didn’t blame her, but I also knew what my son needed.

I prayed for him to always be confident in those differences.

Last Sunday, all the young men were sitting in their row to pass the sacrament.  They all looked similar:  white shirts, ties, and well-groomed.  When they stood up, the young man next to Jackson was easily 2 feet taller than him.   Actually, all the young men were at least a foot taller than him.  It was such a stark contrast that the father of the tallest kid even approached me after church to tell me how funny it looked.  I asked Jackson if it felt weird to be such a small kid passing the sacrament with all those big teenagers.  He looked at me with a bit of confusion….

He hadn’t even noticed the height difference.  He wasn’t worried about that.  He was more concerned with fulfilling his priesthood responsibilities of passing the sacrament.  His confidence in his priesthood from God gave him confidence in his duties.

Similarly, Jackson wasn’t one bit worried about how tall, old, smart, or advanced the other students were in his college class, he had seen that classroom in a dream, and he knew he was exactly where God wanted him to be…. So he was CONFIDENT.

Jackson’s confidence is a gift from God.  I have written in the past about his rough start to life including oxygen tubes, open-heart surgery, and multiple other emergency procedures-which traumatized him greatly. 

I am eternally grateful that Jackson has chosen to turn those challenges into strengths.  He knows his life is a miracle from God, so when a challenging situation arises, his confidence in God supersedes all other possibly intimidating factors.

A little side-note:  Abe is home for a couple of days!!  Hooray!!! :-)  After Jackson's college class, we met up with Abe at the tire store.  The kids saw Abe walk out of the store, and literally leaped all over him.  I got a picture of the excitement this time…