This is my oldest child Cecily. She turns 16 next month. When Cecily was 14 she faced a really big challenge. Half way through her freshman year, she was uprooted from small-town Utah and dropped into a huge city in a foreign country. She had no choice in the matter. Given these circumstances, many teenagers would have curled up in a ball and cried for a month. At 14, I probably would have been that kid. But Cecily didn’t do that. She consciously chose to make the most of what life handed her. Consequently, she has thrived in this crazy environment. She has faced her challenges with grace and incredible courage.
Every weekday morning, Cecily gets herself up and out the door at 5:50 (10 minutes before any other alarm clock goes off in our house). She walks alone to the bus stop, waits for the city bus in the dark and rides it to her friend’s house. Her friend’s mother then drives the girls to another bus stop where they ride the bus the rest of the way to school together for an early morning religion class which begins at 6:30. She then goes through her day at an extremely competitive international school. She does her best to get as much of her homework done during the day because after school she has track. Some days she gets home at 6:00 p.m. Many days she babysits or has church activities after track. Last night she wasn’t home until 9:00. The night before that, it was 9:30. Then she finishes her homework before bed. I often worry that she’s not getting enough sleep.
Earlier this week, Cecily’s early morning religion teacher asked me to email her some of Cecily’s qualities that most people would not know. This is what I sent her:
“Cecily is a huge reader. She inhales books. Also, she loves to cook. She loves to watch Food Network and research recipes and then take treats to her friends at school. She’s great with kids and a really good babysitter and she’s very dependable. She has always been very mature for her age. She is focused and has goals and knows how to go for them. She wants to be a nurse when she grows up. She’s good a caring for people and her patriarchal blessing talks about her ability to care for people and even talks about how she will help people heal and mentions the word “nurse” twice. When Elizabeth was just 5 weeks old, Cecily (age 8) was holding her after school and told me that she thought Elizabeth had a fever. I felt her and couldn’t detect anything. Sure enough, that evening Elizabeth had a high fever and ended up in the hospital for 4 days. Cecily detected it hours before anyone else. Cecily has adapted to this new life very well. She knows how to roll with the punches. I’m amazed at how a girl who grew up in small-town Utah has done so well in this big foreign city. Cecily is adventurous and not afraid to try new things. She loves to travel and see new things. Cecily is quick to forgive. She’s sensitive to the spirit and she can see when she has made a mistake and has the courage to ask for forgiveness. She will apologize when she knows she’s in the wrong. She is kind. She makes friends quickly. She has a quick wit and she enjoys life. Cecily is genuinely happy.”
As you can plainly see, I’m really proud of my daughter. I know that we shouldn’t be prideful, but I can’t help it. Awhile back I asked Cecily if she would go back to her old life in Utah if she could. She told me that she wishes that she could go back to Utah for Christmas break so that she could see the snow. Otherwise, she would just as soon stay here. She will have to face another big challenge in a little over a year. She will have to move to a new school, in a new country just before her senior year in high school. When I’ve talked to her about that move, she has (in typical Cecily fashion) told me that she is looking forward to having a year in another country so that she can learn about a new culture before heading back to the U.S. for college. I’m pretty sure she will face that move with even more grace and courage, because that the kind of person she is.