On the last day of kindergarten, I was called to the front of class and handed a blue piece of paper that changed my life forever. It was a perfect attendance award. I had no idea what it meant, but I was excited. My mom explained that they gave me it because I didn’t miss any school. “That wasn’t hard,” I thought, so on that day, I decided I would always get an award at the end of the year by just never missing school.
Everyone sets goals, but how many of us put forth the effort to see the finished product? At age six, I began what would be a constant struggle for 13 years, but how was I to know? It seemed simple enough to go through kindergarten, so why couldn’t I do it every year?
I believe in goals, not the mere setting and forgetting of goals, but the constant struggle, hard work, refusing to quit achievement of goals. This doesn’t mean that all goals are realistic, and in many ways, my goal seemed like a mighty feat for someone that young, but I think that’s what helped me realize it.
My naiveness allowed me not to see all the factors that were stacked against me. First, what normal kid never gets sick? I was blessed with an excellent immune system, and my mom noted once that the only time I would get sick was over school breaks. She thought I was subconsciously controlling my health.
On Christmas Eve of 1995, my perfect attendance was placed in jeopardy. My aunt, who lived in California, died suddenly, and I had a choice to make. I could either attend my aunt’s funeral and miss two days of school, or I could stay with my grandma and not miss any school. This was a difficult decision for an eight year old to make. With reassurance from my teacher and mom that I would be fine, even if I didn’t have perfect attendance, I decided to attend the funeral. While I was gone, it snowed a little back in Ohio. Okay a little may be an understatement; it snowed fourteen inches. Needless to say, school was canceled while I was gone, and my perfect attendance remained intact.
My parents always encouraged my perfect attendance goal and did what it took for me to succeed. Our family trips were always in the summer because of my perfect attendance even though it is more expensive to go on vacation during the summer. This was a sacrifice my parents were willing to make. Of course, they threw in some gripes along the way, but I knew they were really proud of me. I saw their beaming faces the day they handed me a plaque for 13 years of perfect attendance, and I know without their support it would have been impossible for me to achieve it. I believe everyone should feel what I felt on that day. I believe in achieving goals.
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