So when I heard that Rachel was getting a citation, I looked up the word "citation" and, as I suspected, according to Dictionary.com, a citation is a summons to appear in court. Yikes! She's only eleven years old! She's stealing my car already? Where the heck did she need to go? I hope she put gas in my car. (Hey, at $4.15 a gallon, I'll take free gas any way I can get it.)
Anyway, upon further reading up on the definition, it also listed "citation" as "any award or commendation, as for outstanding service, hard work, or devotion to duty, especially a formal letter or statement recounting a person's achievements...official praise; award; honor, laurel, reward, kudos." Ahh. Now that makes more sense when it comes to Rachel.
On March 5, 2012, Rachel presented testimony at the Connecticut State Capitol in regards to a bill that would allow for hearing impaired and deaf children a Bill of Rights. She had written her own testimony, using her own experiences and presented it to the committee of Senators and Representatives as if she were one herself. Upon viewing the recording which was televised live on CT-N, I was amazed at her composure. Speaking in public comes as natural to her as putting her hearing aids in - it's just who she is. (To see the testimony she gave, click here.)
After the testimony, she received all kinds of fanfare from legislators, other advocates that were there to testify, and even parents of hearing impaired children in the audience. I stood back watching my daughter graciously accept compliments from complete strangers who came up to her to congratulate her on a job well done; her not quite sure what was the big deal. I struggled with, do I explain to her that other people in her same position would be trembling with nerves, getting dry mouth, the walls turning black on them right before passing out, if they had to give a speech such as she did? Do I let her know that if I had to deliver the same speech in the same environment that I would probably pee my pants a little? Do I let her know that she has a special skill that allows her to present with all the grace she exhibits while others would avoid it at all cost? Or do I not make a big deal out of it, as to not plant the seed, so that in any future public speaking event she won't think twice about it?
I went with the latter. And little did I know the opportunity would quickly surface again.
I was contacted by the Director of CREC Soundbridge in Wethersfield who had seen Rachel's testimony and wanted to invite her to the 45th Anniversary Celebration of Soundbridge. She informed me that they wanted Rachel to come because they wanted to honor her for her part in getting the Bill to the forefront. Honor. What did that mean? I had no idea. And when I told Rachel she was getting honored, she wanted to know what that meant as well. Sadly, I couldn't tell her because I wasn't quite sure what that would entail. (She didn't get her articulation and vocabulary from me obviously.) All I knew is that I needed to get her to Soundbridge on April 12, and that she probably shouldn't wear her filthy, green, converse sneakers.
Where does the citation part come in? I'm getting there!
April 12 comes around and we drive to Wethersfield on a Thursday evening. Upon arrival, we are greeted at the door by a woman who says to Rachel, "There's the star of the night! Nice to meet you!" Rachel, all smiles, doesn't quite know what to make of it. I instantly get a sense of empathy for the parents of child stars and question if I should have hired a security guard.
We are handed the program for the festivities. Rachel squeals with delight when she reads that her name is mentioned in the program. (See left)
During the pre-ceremony festivities, the Executive Director of CREC came up to Rachel and introduced himself. He told her what a wonderful job she did with her testimony and that he would be the one that introduces her in the program that evening. I stood there eating my cupcake like this is all old hat. It didn't sink in until Senator Edith Prague entered the room in her grandiose fashion and her and her aide handlers wanted to know where "the child" was. I'm looking around the room like, "What child?" Oh, you mean MY child. The Senator, too, told Rachel what a great job she did. Rachel was indeed the star of the evening.
After consuming food, all guests and dignitaries were invited to move to the auditorium which we did. Neither Rachel nor I knew what to expect. The Director of Soundbridge started things off and then introduced Dr. Bruce Douglas, Exec. Dir. of CREC, who introduced Rachel and Senator Edith Prague who presented Rachel with the citation. Of course I video-taped it. Click below to watch the presentation.
I felt such an abundance of pride watching my daughter receive accolades from these important people in the State. It was awe-inspiring. But I was truly honored when another Honoree in the program, who is a father of a hearing impaired child, stood up and spoke about MY child. Mr. Jim Bedard and his wife are advocates in the State and both Rachel and I were amazed that Mr. Bedard took time out of his speech to recognize Rachel. Truly brought tears to my eyes.