How do I rank?

Humbling experiences…we’ve all had them. Tonight I had to sit as my son had one all his own. It was heartbreaking. 

College applications. A young life narrowed down to statistics and facts. For some it’s a reminder of all that’s been done and accomplished. For those that fit easily into little drop down boxes. What about the kids who’s worth is not measured in test scores? How does a GPA show the measure of a man? It doesn’t. Yet this is to tool he must use to have a future. 

At one post in class rankings he said,”I am such an idiot!”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I told him so. But yet he was staring at a number….a black and white number that told him otherwise. 

There is no score for charisma. No ranking for heart. No category for determination. In a those he would excel. Instead he is forced to measure his character in cumulative scores. It’s impossible to quantify character yet that is just what we have to do. 

“And here goes failure. I am not worth $&@/,” he says at the end when the boxes were checked and the numbers all entered. The cursor mocked him from the daunting blank screw titled: essay. 

“You are worth more than you know!” I admonished. His face told me he wasn’t buying it. God how I yearned to take the keyboard and use my words to tell the world who my colton Henry is. But I can’t. This is his story, his tale to tell. 

“What ignites emotion? What shows who you are at your core? What do you want people to know? Write that. We can fix the mechanics. You just give your words,” I encouraged.

He elected to write about a life event that forever changed him. A life event that showed him what he had at his center. He elected to write about his life changing when our lives fell apart. “Us moving,” he said,”that taught me something.”

“I can’t do this with you looking at me. I can’t do it if I have to tell you what I feel,”he admitted. He slipped on his head phones. I slipped off the kitchen chair and onto the floor where I can still see him but he can’t see me. Tap-tap-tap…his fingers are flying. I don’t think he or I expected this flurry of words.

Why I matter in 650 words or less

Will he let me read it? Do I want to?

I am both ashamed and elated that his defining moment is at the worst moment of my own life. Ashamed that I put him in a position for heartbreak. Elated that in his pain he’s found some lesson. Elated that he added,”now I know what I am made of.” I hope his essay is about the strength and grace he showed and continues to show. 

He was starting this essay defeated. The light out of his eyes. The spunk out of his soul. It physically hurt to see him like this. “You have a letter of recommendation to add to the application,” I reminded him. “Maybe you should read it before you start on your essay…just to remind you…” I suggested. 

“You read it first,” he handed me a sealed envelope. He was nervous. Perhaps afraid of what it would say? There was not an ounce of his normal confidence. Not a speck. Not an iota. There wasn’t enough air in the room for me to breathe. Rankings and scores and percentages had robbed us both of something. Him because he felt it summed up his worth and me because it knew that it didn’t but I had no other way of submitting him for a decision. 

I opened the letter. And there, on paper, were words that illustrated my son. Words that captured his essence. Portrayed his character and applauded him for who he was. Simple language and everyday examples of this fella I love so very much. Of course I cried. Of course he called me out on it. I didn’t know how to explain that I was crying with joy that someone else saw all that I see in him. Crying because someone can tell his tale and be heard. Someone  else wants to show the world who my son is. I am grateful. Eternally grateful because the words helped perk him up a bit. An ounce of spark and a bit of twinkle danced backed in his gray eyes. He wasn’t quite so defeated thanks to the special someone who sees him for who he is. 

He’s decided I can’t see his essay. So I still sit on the floor while he’s texting and soliciting advice from professionals. It’s nerve wrecking and painful. My fingers itch to reach up and take the laptop to read what is there. 

But I don’t. 

He’s asked me not to. I am going to respect him. Lord knows he deserves that after being ranked and judged and graded on things that aren’t his strength. Thank goodness for people who see his strength in others places and who are willing to openly remind him…and anyone who will read it…that character isn’t in a gpa.


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