I spent last weekend in Waco, Texas. Maddy is a student at Baylor and is taking summer classes. She moved into her first apartment off campus. We spent the weekend decorating, talking and eating. I got a glimpse of her life there, meeting some of her friends, going to her favorite restaurants, seeing the parts of Waco that she loves. Outside of the Baylor campus, my initial impression of Waco was less than enthusiastic. I thought of Waco as a tired, economically depressed city with a huge homeless population. (My apologies to all Wacoians for not looking deeper.)
Maddy's first couple of months of college were pretty tough for her. She hated Baylor, hated Waco, in fact hated the entire state of Texas. She let us know in daily conversations that she missed New England, missed us, had made a huge mistake and needed to transfer...asap. Although we did feel for her, we reminded her that she had chosen Baylor for some really good reasons and that we would not allow her to give up on it after only a couple of months. She needed to stay put and make it work.
Almost immediately after her parental denial of transfer, Maddy fell in love with Baylor, Waco and the great state of Texas. She made friends she adored, began using 'y'all' and 'yes ma'am' in everyday conversation and listening to country music, often while wearing cowboy boots.
Last weekend she showed me around Waco (so much better than I thought!) like she was a native tour guide, with genuine appreciation for her adopted city. Although some of my initial impressions remained,seeing Waco through her eyes was fun, I enjoyed it and her tremendously. She has long had the ability see the good in any situation and without any real effort on her part, she convinces others to see things her way as well.
It reminded me of an incident that happened when Maddy was in third grade. It was my volunteer day in her class and I was quietly correcting papers when her class returned from conducting science experiments in the gym. She rushed over to me before taking her seat and blurted out that she had been mean to her friend Jodi, telling her she ruined her science experiment, because she didn't do her part correctly. She felt awful about hurting her Jodi's feelings and asked me what she should do. She wanted to make thing better quickly. My advice was to write her a note, taking full responsibility for her mean words and asking for forgiveness. She returned to her seat and I returned to grading spelling tests.
A few minutes later I hear her lovely but no nonsense teacher say, "Madison Noyce! Did I just see you passing a note?"
I turned around to look at Maddy and saw a hint of terror cross her face. I was floored when I heard my daughter reply, "No, you did not."
"Are you being honest right now Madison?"
"I am." responded Maddy with a straight face.
I sat in the back of the room, no longer able to grade papers, coming to the realization that I was raising a liar who was mean to her friends.
Maddy continued, "It was a letter of apology not a note. I was mean to Jodi when my experiment failed, I felt awful and I asked my mom what I should do." she said while pointing at me.
I sent Maddy a look, the one that says 'leave me out of this!'
"So I sent her a letter on the advise of my mother asking her forgiveness."
I was about to give her the 'you're dead' face, when her teacher called her to the front of the class.
She put her arm around Maddy and said, "Boys and girls, Maddy just taught us a valuable lesson, didn't she? She took responsibility for her actions and asked for forgivness."
She told Maddy how proud she was of her, giving her a little hug and sending her back to her seat. Maddy looked right at me and gave me a tiny wink before sitting down.
I couldn't believe it, she broke a class rule, then lied to her teacher and wound up a hero. Who was this kid I was raising?
I still see a lot of 3rd grade Maddy in the young adult she is now. The kid who could turn breaking a class rule into an act of kindness, can make a fairly unremarkable city feel like a great tourist destination.
It is comforting to me to know that if she ever changes her mind about becoming a nurse practitioner, she would surely have a future in sales.