This week I attended my 6-year-old daughter’s end-of-the-year kindergarten presentation. Her class was up on stage for maybe 12 minutes. They sang some very elementary songs (no pun intended) and each child had about a two-line speaking part. “Hamilton,” it was not. It was not even a satisfying display of the skills and knowledge I am paying through the nose for my daughter to learn there.
Nonetheless, I feel I got a great deal of value in her having put on this presentation, and in my having attended it.
Most crucially, I showed up. This event was important to my daughter and, much as neither of us are going to remember it a few years from now (or possibly even a few days), I showed my daughter that she is important to me. She knows I was there; she waved to me from the stage. The fact that I care came through loud and clear. She sees that not all the other Abbas attended.
She probably even recognizes in some small way that they had to work and that I had to take off from work to come see her. And it matters to her. It’s one more drop in her love bucket, one more of the thousands upon thousands of little indications that I want to make it my business to impart to her. I want her to know, what she is significant and Worthy. Certainly if I got nothing else out of that event than this, it was a real bargain for the time and effort.
But the other benefit derived from this experience probably affected me more than her. It was a reminder that what is worth celebrating is not external achievement but fulfillment of potential.
Nobody in the audience learned anything new from these girls orating unintelligibly on the stage for about eight seconds each. No end product was created. The value, in the traditional sense of the word, added to the world was nil.
However, what I watched is realistically all that one can expect from your average 6-year-old. For these girls to get up on stage in front of an audience and repeat a few lines that they successfully memorized is pretty much at the upper limit of what they can do. And if my daughter has pushed herself to accomplish the upper limit of what she can do, and felt happy about it, there is nothing more that I want from her.
When we go to meet our Maker after (one hopes) 120 years, he will not be judging us on what we have objectively achieved, but rather on how well we use the tools he gave us. And it is a worthwhile reminder for me to focus on appreciating my daughter’s efforts and how much of her potential she is reaching, rather than on what the demonstrable “results” are from her efforts.
There will be many plays and presentations and events over the years. To be totally honest, I expect to derive little entertainment or educational value from the majority of them. But the developmental and spiritual value to my kids? That deserves all my applause.