Friday, September 18, 2015

Accidents & Elections

During this time of presidential debates, names like Trump and Clinton are heard a lot. Amidst this fray of Republicans and Democrats, I was thrilled when a new candidate threw their name into the political ring - Cava Blackwell! To my delight, he decided to run for his fourth grade student council.  This was a huge step for him because it meant he was putting himself out there. 

This year has started off on the right foot. We have had all "green" days and Cava has been getting good grades. He has even made his first friend. He has begun playing football with other boys.  All of these things are the answer to a lot of prayers and a lot of hard work, especially on Cava's part. 

I must admit that, with the excitement, I was a bit nervous for Cava. 

What if he didn't win? 

He might take the defeat as a rejection and then this would lead to anger and possibly him getting in trouble and so on. 

But I was not going to let my fear of  what might happen get in the way of him doing this. Besides, I was proud of him for being so brave. I told him this. 

Benjamin created the Superman image with Cava's face. Danelle came up with his slogan of, "Who's your Superman?" 

I worked with Cava on his speech. First, I asked him, "Why should your classmates vote for you?"

He didn't give me his usual, "I don't know," but thought for a bit before saying, "I'm nice."

That was our starting point and I continued to ask him what attributes (although I didn't use that word with him) would make him a good person to be on student council, how he thought he could help his class, etcetera. It took us an hour for him to come up with what he thought were reasons why they should vote for him and then we typed the speech up.  Here it is:

Hi, my name is Cava Blackwell.

I am running for student council because I love (his school) and think it’s a great school, but together we can make it even better.

Why should you vote for me?

Because I am hard working and do not give up. I will do my very best for you.

I am a good listener who will pay attention to what other students have to say.  I will make sure that your voices are heard in student council.

I am honest and responsible. I like to help others.

I am respectful to teachers. 

I am nice and friendly.

I don’t give up. I don’t quit. And I won’t quit working for you on the student council, so please vote for me.

Thank you for your time and your vote.

Once we had the speech written, we worked on his delivery. When Cava gets nervous, he speaks very quickly and that makes it harder to understand him. I worked with getting him to slow down, enunciate clearly, and how to sell himself. We worked on him not just looking at the piece of paper and reading the speech, but looking up to make eye contact with his classmates.

And we prayed. 

Danelle and I also spoke with him on the possibility that he might lose and how he should handle it.

And we prayed.

Today was the day of the speech and the election.  His teacher told me what time they were doing the speeches and I had asked Cava if he wanted me to come. He immediately beamed his big Cava smile and said, "Sure! That would be great!" He was so happy to hear I would be there for him, in his corner, cheering him on.

This morning, I drove Cava to school. We prayed together before he got out of the car and then I drove off and would return at 9 am. So I thought.  As John Lennon aptly said, "Life is what happens while we're busy making other plans." And boy did it ever today.  I was in a car accident. When it happened, all I could think was, "I'm going to miss Cava's speech." That, more than the damage to my car, saddened me. The car could be fixed, but I knew Cava would be looking for me. I knew he would be hurt that I wasn't there. I didn't know how that would affect his speech and him. I contacted the school to let them know. I called Danelle at work and told her.  

While I waited for the police to show up, I prayed. I prayed for Cava. I prayed that I would be able to get there in time. 

I felt some relief when Danelle showed up. 

After the cop had taken the report, Danelle rushed us to Cava's school. We got there right at 9 am and the office let Cava's teacher know that we were there and were coming. She waited until we got to class and then asked which candidate wanted to go first. Without missing a beat, Cava's hand shot up and he went to the front of the class.  

Although he spoke quietly, Cava did not rush and he looked up and at different students as he spoke. I was so proud of him. Whether or not he got picked for student council, this boy was a winner. 

When he had finished, everyone clapped, especially his Mom and I. 

There were quite a few candidates running against him. We listened to all their speeches, clapped for each child, and, when they had finished, left.  In the car, Danelle and I talked about which ones we thought had done well, who we thought would be his biggest competition, but mostly we focused on how truly proud we were of Cava. All of this is a tribute to the progress he has made in just under three years.  It is amazing to see how far he's come, where he is, and where he is going in his life. Him standing before his peers and opening himself up to potential rejection was enormous.  

His teacher told us that she would tally all of the votes later and would not announce the winner until the end of the day. This was a relief to us because then, should he lose, we could deal with Cava's disappointment and hurt at home. 

But we couldn't wait until we knew. In between dealing with the insurance company and getting a car rental, our thoughts and conversation were about Cava and wondering how he did.

Why couldn't the time to pick Cava up come sooner?

The wait in the car line felt longer because of our anticipation.  

We prepared ourselves for the worst so that we would be ready to console him.

When we finally pulled the car up in front of the school, Cava came out with a huge grin. We knew without his saying a word that he won. Tears welled up in my eyes. Not just for this victory for student council, but the much bigger victory of Cava feeling a sense of acceptance by his classmates. That alone put into perspective how trivial the matter with the damage to the car really was. This was a day for celebration.

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