Her face is curious and genuinely puzzled. “Why,” she repeats, “am I being nominated for an award?”The Intrepid Junior Blogger has just learned she has been nominated for an award through the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce. The award, dubbed the “X-ceptional Kidz” award is meant for youth who are exceptional in some regard. I have always thought the IJB to be exceptional, but then again I likely have exceptional bias when it comes to her, too.
The IJB is in many ways an average kid. She goes to school, she visits the orthodontist for adjustments on her shiny new braces, she plays video games and she cuddles her cats. But in some ways perhaps she is exceptional, although I have become so accustomed to it maybe I don’t even see it anymore. I am uncertain how many teenaged kids receive alerts on their cell phone on breaking news stories that involve politics. I’m not sure how many have worked on election campaigns (including taking a stab at writing press releases along with delivering campaign materials). I’m not sure how many have argued with their former local MP on Twitter over his grammar (she’s a stickler for grammar, this one). I’m not sure how many can succinctly explain the robocall scandal, discuss the concept of food security, talk about radio demographics, expound on the crisis faced by animal welfare organizations like the SPCA, argue about Schrodinger’s cat with their mother, intelligently dissect marketing campaigns, interview the leader of a national political party and write an article for publication based on that interview AND still giggle like the average teen girl when confronted with a fat cat who wants his belly rubbed. I am sure of this: the IJB is someone who I believe has the capacity to one day change the world, just as so many of our youth do.Last night the IJB, along with Mitch Murphy, another remarkable youth in our community, was recognized at the Chamber of Commerce awards banquet as an X-ceptional Kid in our region. She was her usual quiet self at our table, only really becoming animated when discussing her science fair project. She tends to be shy with those she does not know, and I often think they must wonder what she is really thinking (and how little they know that at times I have to ask her to simply remain silent for five minutes as she can fill the air with so many ideas and thoughts and questions that they swirl around in my head and make me dizzy). She had asked if she could bring her Physics homework to the banquet, as her main concern right now is keeping on top of her classes, including her Advanced Placement courses in Science and Language Arts. She was perturbed when I said no, but I think all was forgiven when she enjoyed the fabulous food at the Sawridge Inn and enjoyed the company of those at our table.
When the IJB asked why she had been nominated she commented that has done nothing of significant note. She has not gone to space, cured cancer or climbed Everest. She has not changed the world (well, except for mine). What I told her, though, is that being exceptional isn’t always about what you do but about how you do what you do. It isn’t about going to space or curing cancer or climbing Everest. It is about always doing your best whatever it is you do – going to school, or volunteering, or contributing to your community, or working for social justice, or simply observing the world and noting what you could do to make it a better place. In the end being exceptional is truly nothing more than that – which means everyone can be exceptional.Now, in my eyes the IJB is, of course, exceptionally exceptional. She is in my view a remarkable young woman who amazes me every day, whether it is her grade average or her thoughts on the most recent world crisis. She is a thoughtful individual who is changing and growing and learning every single day, and every day she inspires me to strive to make the world a better place, because it is her world and she deserves it.
I want to thank the Fort McMurray Chamber of Commerce for hosting awards that recognize not only local business but local individuals who make a difference in our community. I want to thank Servus Credit Union, the sponsor of the awards banquet last night, and Nexen Energy, who sponsored the X-ceptional Kidz Award (and who I think are tremendous community partners in their recognition of youth in our community, who truly form the backbone of our future). I want to thank those who nominated the IJB and supported her nomination, who have come to know her and view her as exceptional, too.But most of all I guess I want to thank the IJB. I don’t directly address her often in this blog, but today I will make an exception, as it seems to be an exceptional day:
Dearest Sam,Congratulations on your award. I was proud of you last night, but to be honest I am proud of you every day and always will be, because I am your mom, your supporter and your biggest fan. A couple of years ago you made me cry when you were asked to write an essay about your hero and you named me. Today I am in tears because you are my hero, and watching you grow and change and develop is a gift for which I can never express enough gratitude. Thank you, Sam, for being you and for not even realizing how exceptional you are. You are the reason I do everything I do, and I am so very, very proud to be your mom.