One of the colleges my eldest kiddo applied to allows for a family recommendation, in addition to the academic ones. Their reasoning is they want to really get a sense of the student's personality through the lens of someone who knows him or her best.
Since I'm the writer-parent, my husband handed off that job to me.
One of the questions on the form was to write down the first words that come to mind when thinking about the student.
It wasn't hard.
My son is all those things, and more, and when I reflected on the recommendation, I realized that he has had these character traits since he was a very small child.
There may have been times when I (in my frustration in being a new parent) may have looked at these in different and negative ways. Honestly, there were times when I wanted to shove earplugs in my ears and scream rather than listen to another lecture on dinosaurs or trains or wolves--some of his vocal passions as a youngster. I may have seen his motivation and engagement as rigidity and stubbornness. I am certain that his unique view of the world often drove me insane.
But all those traits that challenged my skills as a mother back then? They are exactly the same attributes that makes him an amazing young man today.
There is a great power in being able to find the right words at the right moment to make sense of our reality. How much better it would have been if a decade or more ago, I had been able to recast my negative labels into the positives they really were.
And I am grateful that I am able to see him in this way today.