My daughter won first place in the science fair

The reason I am posting this blog entry is not because I am bragging about my daughter who won FIRST PLACE in her category in the Science Fair at her school today. Yes, of course I am proud of her. What mother wouldn’t be? Jewish or not.

But there is more to the story than  her FIRST PLACE award and that is the story that I want to tell.

There’s two parts. The first one is about expectations. I have often been accused of setting very high expectations: for myself, for my students in a past life when I was a teacher and for my children. I can’t help it. My parents had high expectations of me and I learned my M.O. from them.

I have learned on my own that for maximum results I need to strike a reasonable balance between demand and motivation when it comes to getting those expectations met. In my experience, teenagers do not respond well to too much pressure, especially my daughter.

I was not at my stellar best when it came to communicating expectations in regards to this particular project.

Her award is the “I told you so.”

I was not as supportive and motivating as I should have been. I suggested, not too subtly, that she should have done more research and worked harder. I nagged her to finish it early so she would not be working at the last-minute. It did not create the most joyful environment.

She did say that she was glad she finished it before winter break so that she could relax while some of her friends were still stressing about getting it done.

When they announced her first place award at the assembly I was duly humbled. She had it under control all along. I will give her more credit from now on.

The other thing I can’t help but think about in relation to her success on this project is that it has to do with her Bat Mitzvah. How are a science project and the  rite of passage for Jewish  thirteen-year-olds connected you might ask.

The way I see it, not only does becoming a Bat Mitzvah have great significance in relation to her role in the Jewish community, it also affects her secular life as well.

Making a presentation in front of her class was no big deal after leading a congregation filled with family and friends and community members in prayer–in another language. Writing a 5 paragraph essay was a drop in the bucket compared to composing and giving an introduction to  a Torah portion a Haftarah portion and a D’var Torah.

This rite of passage served to deepen her connection to our Synagogue and the wider Jewish community.  It also enhanced her confidence and reinforced skills that she will apply as a leader in her secular life as well.

While it will be a long while before I am prouder of her than I was a year ago, on the day of her Bat Mitzvah, I will take every moment I can get, like her FIRST PLACE award at the science fair today. Even if this particular one comes with a bit of chagrin.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Phyllis
    Jan 20, 2011 @ 20:44:30

    I’d like to mention your daughter’s name in my Mazal Tov. But, I’m not remembering either of your daughter’s names or ages. Help me with this so I can send a proper “Congrats”.
    Phyllis

    Reply

  2. Hal W
    Jan 22, 2011 @ 22:59:17

    Lorrie,

    You are a very special person and you have achieved a great deal in your life, including producing a daughter in your own image. We are all very proud of you and your daughter and love both of you.
    Your daughter is a bright and intelligent young lady and Terry believes she may have a great career in the medical profession, which would be fabulous.
    We send our congrations to you and the First Place winner.

    Love, Hal & Terry

    Reply

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