This may sound terrible, but these proud moments don't happen as often as I would prefer. He's been one tough cookie and some days I wonder how I've survived thus far. Right now though, I am so profoundly impressed with him - he has made incredible strides over the last couple of years and even in the last couple of months. Karate has been such a force for good for him. Last week Preston volunteered to lead his peers in the repeating of the 'I Vow.' I inwardly cringed sure that he wouldn't be able to do it and would be down and frustrated after his attempt. Once he got going, he knew it, lead with confidence, received high-fives from his classmates and I was so impressed. At class this week the teacher would call out what move to do and Preston didn't hesitate - he was sharp and on task. He's also been determined to not be absent or tardy to class, participate in the Reflections competition and get above a B average so as to achieve his Distinguished Dragon award. He is also pursuing his Patriotic Award. And I'm astonished every morning when he appears for breakfast dressed and has already made his bed without me nagging three times about it. What the? Is that possible? Seemingly small feats I know but really quite huge in reality. He even showered before school this morning so he could have sharp-looking hair. For the kid who doesn't care about chocolate shake on his face and sporting the essence of 'bed-head' I tried to just roll with it without giving away my excitement (have you noticed that kids want to do the opposite of what you want?).
With all of these wonderful accomplishments swirling in my head, I sat down to write him a letter. This was the topic of conversation when I met last with his therapist. I asked her how I can communicate with him good or bad because he intrinsically shuts down when my mouth opens (ah, I remember those days myself). She suggested writing him letters. Keep them short, to the point, and don't re-state anything - those were my only parameters. That was the moment that I recalled the stash of letters that I kept from my father (yes mom, I have several of yours as well!). Most of the letters I got were from when I was in trouble but his words were so profound and I knew that he was right about everything he said; I kept them for future light reading - even twenty years into the future I still pull them out. I remember also a small post-it note he left on my desk one day after I went to a church canning assignment despite the fact that none of my friends that signed up to go went. I went because I had already committed to doing it and I remembered one of his letters about being a woman of my word. I was there with several older gals from my church and it wasn't the most fabulous four hours I've ever spent but it wasn't bad either. The note said something along the lines of, "I'm proud of you for honoring your commitment especially when you didn't really want to go and your friends ditched out." I put the note under my bathroom sink and saw it every time I threw something out. I was recently disappointed to find that it had most likely been thrown out after a remodel. It was so simple but I had kept it and even sneaked peaks at it years after I had been married and moved out.
Good praise or bad news for them, in letters I've said what I need to say and they can go back to it again and again if they choose. It is also done in a neutral environment without warring words and egos which means chance of reception on their part is going to go up. What other means of communication have you used that have proven successful?