Noah. He is just so smart and sincere. Hidden underneath that shaggy mop, and climbs everything energy, is a very sensitive soul. The last two years have been a challenge because of two international moves, one cross country move, three houses, a new school... a rough school, new friends... or lack of. He is so strong, but it has been hard on him. God graciously gave him an amazing teacher this year who has been such an encouragement to him. Back in February, Noah came home and casually mentioned that some of his artwork and writing had been entered into a contest. He didn't know any details and thought he probably wouldn't win. It didn't seem very important to him, so I really didn't press for details and kind of forgot about it. A few weeks later, he started to mention every once in a while that it might be cool to win, but that it wasn't a big deal if he didn't. Well, I'm smart enough to know that if the kid brings it up, that means he's been thinking about it. And if he has been thinking about it, it probably is a big deal to him and it would be a big deal if he won. At the end of March, he told me that they were going to announce the winner at his school the next day. We talked about how cool it would be if he won, but that even if he didn't, it was still an honor to be recognized. He came home the next day ecstatic that he had won. We were happy that he was happy. Awards are fun! Again, he didn't really know any details but that we might get a letter soon.
Well, to sum it up... the letter came and we were shocked. He won for best story, not at his school, but for the Grand Rapids Public School district. They would have his art and story on display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and would have a reception where he would give a speech and read his story.
Leading up to the event, Noah became really nervous and wasn't sure he could get up and speak in front of a large crowd. I really believed it would be a good experience for him, and kept encouraging him. His teacher let him practice in front of his class, we prayed for courage, and hoped for the best.
The evening came, and I was probably more nervous than he was. We got all gussied up, and headed to the GRAM. He was given the royal treatment, and I could tell he was nervous. He had the chance to practice with the microphone before they opened the doors. People started filing in, a couple hundred in all. Noah had lots of support in the crowd. His cheering section included the four of us, Grandma, Aunt Katie and cousin Jan, Our friends the Longs, his teacher and principal, his art teacher, and the language arts specialist from his school... 15 in all.
Mic check before the doors opened...
He got up on that stage and nailed it. I was totally choked up. Looking at my boy, being honored for a talent, and his specialness being recognized by someone other than the people who love him dearly, was amazing. He was becoming his own person, totally separate from his little family, right there in front of my eyes. And he was doing it well. I know I was beaming, but it wasn't until the Education coordinator from the museum, who had been working with Noah on his speech, spoke some kind words about him, that I just could not hide my quivering chin and watering eyes. It is an amazing feeling when someone other than me (or a certain Grammy who notoriously wears "Mom Goggles"), gets up on a public platform and says what an intelligent and earnest kid your son is. To say I was simply "proud" is a serious understatement.