It must be graduation time. The airwaves and the internet are full of compelling quotes, sage advice, and smart-alecky humor all intent on celebrating, intimidating or amusing our would-be graduates. I chose the Mandela quote for my particular graduate. Not that my beloved grandson would ever play small. In the best ways possible, he is much too cocky for that.
Over the years, I’ve watched Cameron go from a darling, curly-headed kid with a smile that put sunshine to shame, to an accomplished young man closing the door on childhood as he moves confidently across the high school graduation stage.
As the youngest of three brothers, Cam didn’t have a choice to be anything but commanding. Lamenting the four sleepless years she’d spent, given the bedtime habits of the two older boys, my daughter declared that, by God, she would never go through those years again if she had to tie Cameron to his crib. It wasn’t necessary. I remember him at 14 months old climbing out of his crib, striding to the door, tossing his bottle on the floor and demanding, “More shake!” When I refilled his bottle and handed it to him, he toddled back to his crib, climbed up over the railing and went back to sleep.
As daunting as his older brothers were, Cameron always managed to hold his own, in fact was toughened by the process. Granted, he did have the advantage of a younger cousin who made it clear from day one that the sun and the moon rose and set with his ‘brossin’ Cameron. I remember driving them to a game and hearing Cameron tell his wide-eyed, cousin that as bi-racial kids, they sometimes would hear their friends say ugly things about their moms’ skin color. He advised that Xav ignore them. I almost drove off the road when seven year old Xav asked in a serious voice about my decidedly Caucasian daughter, “Is my mom white?” An exchange that made clear, at least in our multicolored family, we must have been doing something right.
As he got older, basketball claimed Cam. An extraordinary athlete whose drive was larger than his refusing-to-grow-tall body, he became a masterful point guard. In high school when he gave into a longstanding injury and declared he wouldn’t play varsity ball that year, he reassured the coach that while he wouldn’t play, he was pleased to co-coach. No doubt the coach wasn’t surprised. That confidence and, yes, cockiness, was so…Cam.
When I see him now–an out-of-nowhere six foot, two inch young man with a smile every bit as dazzling as his two year old one had been, I’m amazed and a little wistful. Is this really the boy who at five years old used to crawl into bed beside me on our cabin porch and say, “Let’s meditate, Mimi.” At which point he would pull out our MP3 player, give me one of the earbuds while he took the other and we would listen together. No more than two minutes after hearing the deep resonant guru’s voice say, “Greetings and welcome”, I’d remove the earplugs and settle into my book listening to the soft snores of my bed buddy.
Earphones continued to play a role in our time together as he hit middle school and…puberty. When I drove the thirteen, and then fourteen year old boy to school, I’d note if he was wearing his earplugs. If his plugs were in, I would greet him with a smile and put in my earplugs. We would drive to school in compatible silence never questioning what god-awful thing the other was listening to. However, on the odd days when his plugs weren’t in, I removed mine and we would share wonderful, silly and sometimes serious conversation. All of which– including the silent, plugged-in times, are dear to my heart.
I wasn’t surprised when Cam achieved the status of a student athlete due to his straight A grades. I also wasn’t surprised when he nailed a raft of scholarships and awards to ease his way into college. At the same time that he chose to work forty hours a week to ensure that he was pulling his weight.
As for girls, naturally they chased him. How could they not? He’s gorgeous. But back to that cockiness. He and his equally dazzling basketball friend chose to go to their junior and senior proms with each other, the easier to dance with as many of the adoring girls as they could fit in. Of course they would. Why ever would they limit themselves?
Cam is also a gifted writer, a talent that showed itself in 8th grade. At a family dinner, he casually mentioned that he’d been asked to write an essay on one of the people he admired most. To my amazement, he said “I wrote about you, Mimi.” I’m sure it won’t surprise you that essay is framed and sitting on my bedside stand where it has been for five years.
So Cam, turnabout is fair play. This is my ode to you, my adored grandson. Your Mimi is incredibly proud of you and I love you more than you can ever imagine.
I leave you with two quotes – from a singular person in our lifetime, Barack Obama. The first quote is one that is especially pertinent for you as you move into the bigger world.
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
I know I don’t have to worry about Cam leading the change that this world desperately needs. Indeed, I’m confident that Obama would be reassured about the future if he met Cam.
But my favorite Obama quote that also describes my inimitable and “oh-so-cocky” grandson is what brought down the house at the 2008 Al Smith Dinner:
“If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness? It’s possible that I’m a little too awesome.”
Ah yes. Go for it, Cam. The world truly is your oyster. Lucky us!
Because I’m crazy about my four grandsons, Take a peek at the four Justice Brothers. I promise you won’t stop once you get started. In Justice Brothers country, Justice, like Love isn’t always easy….
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