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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Looking through someone else's eyes.

The last few days on Facebook everyone has been posting their pictures of their kids since most are getting their school pictures back. I remember always buying the boys a new tie or shirt so that they could be all dressed up and looking clean for their school photos. I have them all layered, and hanging in the hallway. Each year brought a new look, even if it was just that they looked older. This year I will be adding Mitchell's final picture, his grad pic. I commented on a friend's picture of her girls the other day that I thought they looked even cuter since I have gotten to know them a bit more. They are two girls that are always well-behaved, well spoken and just pleasant. Their mother responded to my comment by saying that since she sees them every day, she did not always see them the same way, but that I could be right. Her comment kind of stuck with me the last few days, and I thought of it again last night as I sat at the Sawridge, and took in the evening's event. We can often be our own worst critics, and I think that at times we can do the same to our children. Last night, as Mitchell was presented an award for being an "X-Ceptional Kid" I watched it unfold not as a mom, but as an observer.

The awards are held by the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce every year, and it is a night where local businesses and individuals are recognized for all their hard work, dedication to the community and they present various awards to the winners. Nexen was the sponsor of the award presented to Mitchell, and to another well-deserving young woman from Fort McMurray, Sam Wells. Sam's mom, Theresa, is a well-known blogger/communications woman from Fort McMurray, and someone at the table joked during the evening that with two bloggers at the same table then the event should be well covered. I think it's wonderful that Nexen would take the initiative to recognize local youth, because really, they are truly our future. There were two young interns at our table from Nexen, and if they were any indication of the quality of people that work for Nexen, then it definitely must be attracting the cream of the crop. They were both so engaging, and spoke so highly of their work, where they were from, and of Fort McMurray. It's always fun at these dinners when you are in arranged seating and get to meet some new people. 

When I first told Mitchell about the nomination, he was his usual humble self, and we talked about what it means to win such an award. Mitchell has done so much for his community in the last number of years, and has shown me on many occasions that when you give your time and heart, you really do feel better about those around you and your community in general. I cannot count how many conversations we have had after an event and Mitchell has started the conversations by saying, "You wouldn't believe the person I met that...." and he would then go on to tell me about meeting someone who shared their story with him during their time together. It has been all those people that he met and interacted with over the years that kept inspiring him to do more, to be more and to dream more. I have often said that Tim and I have little to nothing to do with how great our kids are turning out. While we have provided the love and stable home for them, we have had support and inspiration from teachers, coaches, the cadet group, and all those people who share their time and their hearts with our children. So I guess we all play a part in nights like last night. 

Years ago Tim and I received lots of advice when we first had Mitchell and then Nathanial, and it always stayed with us. The first piece of advice was to pick our battles, if it was not something that would matter five years from now, then don't argue about it. So hair styles, clothing choices, and silly things were never argued over. Another tidbit was when you felt yourself getting upset, pretend there's a video camera on you...if you were being taped, would you be okay with showing the tape to your best friend or a teacher tomorrow? I caught myself on more than one occasion finding better words when I thought of a video tape showing up, lol. But my favourite piece of advice has always been to build up your child, tell them you love them and that they are amazing, because no else has to. As a parent, it's our responsibility to make sure their self esteem is the best it can be, because when they go out in the world, too many bad things can happen and life can be cruel at times. But if they feel good about themselves, than they can handle the bad stuff. That's our job, as parents, give them the love they need to help them realize they can do whatever they want, and that they are loved. 

So am I proud of Mitch? You darn friggin right I am. He is everything we had ever hoped for in a child, and he is now a young man, who's ready for the world, and I can't wait to see what he is capable of doing with his life, and for his community. But even in receiving this award last night, Mitch still pointed out in his humble way that there are so many other great kids in our community. Ones that may not have support at home, who still have jobs, volunteer and do great in school. So if you know a great kid, please tell them you think they are doing a great job of growing up. Help build up that self-esteem, because we all benefit from having wonderful people around us. 

Below is a picture from last night of Mitchell, with one of our local MLAs, Mike Allen. Thanks again to the chamber of commerce, with it's sponsor, Servus Credit Union, Nexen and whoever thought of Mitchell to nominate him. It was another memorable evening in Fort McMurray. 

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