On the wings of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a story with you:
My Mom’s Pep-talk without Words
I was 12 and in sixth grade and had the opportunity to take the entrance
exam for a special academic girls high school. There was no tuition to attend
the school and getting in was tough — very competitive. Girls came from
all over the city to take the entrance exam.
I was a terrible test-taker. I hated tests — they made me feel nervous and anxious. My mother knew this very well, so here’s what she did:
She took off a whole day from work. She was a secretary and worked
full-time at a law firm in downtown Manhattan. She had four kids and
money was tight, so she rarely took off time from work.
The test was in the afternoon. She took me downtown from our apartment in
Washington Heights and we spent the day together. Since there were four
of us and she worked, this was a very rare and precious treat. We went window
shopping, we went to a wonderful bookstore called Brentanos, and we had
lunch out at a restaurant. Spending all this time with my mom was exciting.
In all the hours we spent that morning, my mother never once mentioned the
test or gave me a typical pep-talk, saying “Karin, you can do this. Just don’t
be nervous.” I think she knew intuitively that talking about the test would
just make me more anxious. So all we did was have fun that morning.
She made me feel special and by doing that, the test faded from
“special” to “important.”
We took a cab uptown — another rate treat. I can still remember the huge
building where the test was held looming up. My mom delivered me to the door.
By the time I sat down, I’d had such a wonderful time, I felt more relaxed.
There was an English section and also a math section, which is my Achilles heel. To this day, I still have no idea how I passed that test. But I do know this: without my mom’s brilliant silent pep-talk, it never would have happened.
Sometimes the words we don’t say or write are as important as the ones we do. Write on.
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