Today was the science fair for Ella's school. I love watching my kids participate in this sort of thing. I always beam with pride. I wasn't going to make a post about it, but then I thought how important it would be to me to have these memories one day in the (not so distant) future when Ella is too old for the science fair. *tear*
Ella's project was "Exercise Your Heart" where she found out the effect of different exercises on heart rate.
The "what" she did really isn't important. It's the "how" she did. We stayed up later than her normal bedtime last night practicing going through her slides so she knew all the information about her project. Both of us were overtired and the learning session ended in tears and a stern voice from mom. You see, I don't accept just good enough. I expect my kids to give 100% and that 100% meant really knowing what she was talking about. After all, this is HER project-- not mine.
Eventually last night I had to hug Ella and tell her I knew she'd know the information tomorrow, that she was just overtired and everything would be just fine. You see, the science fair is completely voluntary. It doesn't count for a grade and she doesn't get any credit for it. She only gets the satisfaction of knowing she's done a job and done it well.
When the first person came up to talk to Ella about her project, she seemed nervous, but she went through everything beautifully. It was almost as though she had a script and she went through it perfectly (even if it did seem pre-rehearsed). She told me she was so relieved after she talked to the first person because it was a lot easier than she thought.
As each person came and spoke with her she beamed with pride with their compliments and I could tell she felt proud. Finally when the official scientist came over to hear her presentation she was confident and explained her project just like I knew she could. He seemed really impressed and maybe he acted that way to all the students, but neither Ella or I were the wiser.
Ella asked me, "Did I do a good job mommy?" And I told her what a wonderful job she had done and how proud I was of her. I asked her if me being hard on her last night had paid off and she said it had. I truly believe this is how you give your children confidence. Ella was not sure when she went to bed last night if she could do it. She was nervous and anxious about the whole thing. I assured her she would be fine, but when she went into the fair today and talked about her project with knowledge and ease, she realized she was fine. She was able to achieve something that last night seemed just outside her reach. Not knowing if you can and then achieving something is the perfect recipe for developing one's own self worth.
Today my little girl earned a trophy, but more importantly she earned a little pride and a ton of confidence. It might not be shiny and gold, but I think it's worth so much more and it's something she can take with her into that not so distant future.