The Boy Behind the Speech

The Boy Behind the Speech by Robynn

Connor has been chosen, by his peers, to give a ten minute speech at Manhattan High School’s commencement. The selection process was a little intimidating—or at least it would have been for me. Connor had to submit a written piece to the administration. He then had to deliver a two-minute speech to his classmates (all 400 of them) who then voted. And Connor’s was chosen.

Lowell and I are very proud.

And to be honest, Lowell and I are also a little nervous!

It’s remarkable to me how our Connor is all grown up. It’s unbelievable, really. How did that happen? Other people’s children grow up steadily, at an even pace of development. But not Connor–he’s exceptional that way I suppose–he just zipped up! Swoosh! I don’t know what miracle or scientific anomaly happened in our family but yesterday Connor was in grade six. He had his first job as a paper boy, saved up his money and bought a Wii. The day before that he was a seven year old resisting showers and personal hygiene of any kind. And just the week before that he was crawling around on his hands and knees on cement floors making this hilarious duck sound. Now, at age 18, with only 14 days of school left, he’s graduating from high school.

The only reason we’re nervous is because of other things we’ve heard come from this kid’s mouth.

 When he was nine years old and having a particularly bad day he mumbled this,      “Every kid has one childhood and you’re ruining mine.”

Personal hygiene was always a struggle for Connor when he was younger. He resented every shower, every scrub brush, every washcloth. Once when he was seven, I reminded him to take a shower and indicated which body parts he should remember to wash, his response was loud and impassioned, “Pits?! I have to wash my armpits?? I’ve never washed my pits in my whole life!” Another time, around that same season, I asked him if he had changed his underwear, to which he exploded, “Change my underwear?? Really? You’re killing me, Mom!”

Connor was always an articulate boy. He said what he felt and he said it with conviction. When he was eight years old he was fed up with the games his sisters played. He thought they were meaningless and lacked substance. In a heartfelt moment he confessed, “I’m so disappointed with God. I prayed for a baby brother or a dog that talks and he hasn’t given me either.” This was the same boy who wrote me a note when I went to the hospital to deliver his youngest sibling. The note read, “If the baby’s a boy I’ll have a lot of fun. If the baby’s a girl I’ll have another sister.”

We never knew what Connor might say and when. One time we had a group of pastors visiting mutual friends in North India. We offered to take them out to lunch on the Sunday they were in town. Midway through the meal, Connor leaned over with something significant to offer the conversation. He began with a question, “What’s a lesbian, Mom? He then turned to the pastors by way of explanation and said, “Late at night, after me and my sisters go to bed, my parents watch adult movies. That’s where I heard that word.” (For the record, ‘adult movies’ meant anything that was not Disney!) Lowell and I nearly choked. The three men with us burst out laughing!

This same young man when he was ten declared, “You are the worst mother in the whole world.” Not thirty minutes later he said, “You are the best mom in the world. I love you.”

These quotes and quips came from the boy. Connor is now a man. He is worthy of the trust his classmates have in him. He is a person of faith, he’s intelligent, well–spoken, and passionate. He has a great sense of humour. Politically engaged, civic-minded with a strong sense of justice, Connor has what it takes to leave his classmates with a little comedy, a little inspiration and a great challenge.

Never mind what you’ve said in the past, Connor —you’ve got this, Son!

One thought on “The Boy Behind the Speech

  1. Impressive (most). I had my two years in a newly-formed consolidated rural high school in piedmont NC and was one of four speakers at graduation (four original high schools had combined: Sylvan, AW, EMH and Eli Whitney (mine) – which also incorporated Saxapahaw (Elementary). No humor in my speech. I chose the sheep and the goats Judgment, Matthew 25. And what I remember in rehearsing: my college English prep teacher (later a professor at Elon) poked fun of my pronunciation: OFT-en (which she said has a silent “T” – OFF-en.


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