I know this story has made the internet rounds already this week, but it really touched and inspired me. For those of you who have not yet read about it, graduating high school senior Brenna received one of the most thoughtful gifts ever from her dad. In her own words:
I graduated High School this week. When my Dad said he had a present for me I thought I was getting some cheesy graduation card. But what I received was something truly priceless.
Following the ceremony he handed me a bag with a copy of Oh, the Places You’ll Go, by Doctor Seuss inside. At first I just smiled and said that it meant a lot and that I loved that book. But then he told me “No, open it up.”
…On the first page I see a short paragraph written by none other than my kindergarten teacher. I start tearing up but I’m still confused.
He tells me “Every year, for the past 13 years, since the day you started kindergarten I’ve gotten every teacher, coach, and principal to write a little something about you inside this book.”
He managed to keep this book a secret for 13 years, and apparently everyone else in my life knew about it!
Yes the intended effect occurred… I burst out in tears. Sitting there reading through this book there are encouraging and sweet words from every teacher I love and remember through my years in this small town. My early teachers mention my “Pigtails and giggles,” while my high school teachers mention my “Wit and sharp thinking..” But they all mention my humor and love for life.
It is astounding to receive something this moving, touching, nostalgic, and thoughtful. I can’t express how much I love my Dad for this labor of love.
Call it inspiration, call it copying, but I plan to do the very same thing for my kids. I’ve been terrible about journaling, I’m at least three years behind on photo albums (which leaves me right at my pre-Gabe maternity shoot). But I’ve always had a soft spot for Oh, the Places You’ll Go. When I started at my job, many years back, I was told that this Dr. Seuss classic was a perennial spring bestseller, due to it making a great graduation gift for preschoolers through PhD students. Many imitations have come and gone since then, and Dr. Seuss continues to sell. It’s darkly funny, it’s sweet, and it’s all too true. My favorite line reads as follows:
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I plan to start this project this summer, when Norah “graduates” from her beloved preschool and heads on to kindergarten. In a bout of coincidence, the kids recently received evaluations from their preschool. It’s not the first time, but I pulled these latest papers out tonight and read them with greater focus. I wonder how the descriptions of their personalities, their interests and their challenges will change over time. Here they are, at ages 5 1/2 and almost 3.
Have you done anything special to mark the passage of time for your kids? What an amazing father, right? It reminds me of the dad who read aloud to his daughter each night from very young childhood through college (and she went on to become an author!).