A Perfect Gift

During my daughter’s 7th grade year of school she came home one day, sat at her desk and began attempting to draw horses. She tried again and again, becoming more frustrated with every eraser-laden picture. I was pretty sure I had just walked into the twilight zone because she had always had a narrow set of interests and drawing horses was not one of them.

I soon found out that she did not like horses, another girl at school did. She was trying to like them, to draw them, to be like someone else. For the first time in her 12 years she was beginning to realize that she wasn’t quite like her classmates and decided to abandon her own interests for acceptance.

It broke my heart. I knew we had turned a corner that there would be no finding our way back from here. Her desire to fit in has continued and my desire to help her be happy with who she is has followed right along side.

When she began her role managing the girls’ high school soccer team three years ago  she watched with envy as each girl received their varsity letter for participating. We were told that once in a while a team manager will get a varsity letter for their assistance on the team but it is not until their junior or senior year of high school. I helped my daughter remember this fact often, as she pined over being just like her team.


After her second season of volunteering we attended the end of year banquet and I watched as new girls received letters and academic certificates and my daughter received overwhelming thanks and praise for her hard work. As the varsity coach finished his speech he announced that he had one last gift, my daughter’s varsity letter.

The pride in her face and the applause in the room and the tears in my eyes swirled into a memory that neither one of us will ever forget. This Christmas that varsity letter will be placed on a jacket that she may just wear until she’s 80.

Yes she had been given that coveted varsity letter but she had also been given the gift of someone who looked past rules and guidelines and the “norm” to give her what she wanted more than anything, what I wanted most for her…


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About Jessica

Jessica is a 30-something mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart. On any given day you will find her taxi-ing a teenager, mopping up the latest "art project" and trying to remember when she turned the crock pot on… all the while, looking for the closest Starbucks drive thru. Jessica Watson can also be found at her personal blog Four Plus an Angel, on twitter (@jessbwatson) and on Pinterest.

25 thoughts on “A Perfect Gift

  1. We want our kids to be accepted and yes it can burn when we feel that we are being passed over. I am so happy that your daughter got her well-deserved varsity letter. Acceptance can be so hard to come by because people (old and young) can be so mean. I just pray that your child and mine can find it one day.

  2. This is the kind of story that I love to read over and over, especially on the tough days. What a wonderful reward for her hard work! You must have been so proud. Well done to your daughter, her supportive mama and the wonderful coach for honoring her contribution to the team :)

  3. I’m just entering my son’s “I don’t want to be different” phase; it is a new, still heartbreaking phase in this autism journey. Thank you for showing me we’re not alone. Happy for both of you.

  4. As I get to know more about your daughter through you, I feel a tingle of pride for BOTH of you when I read these stories. I am kvelling for you. That feeling of acceptance and knowing your child feels happy…PRICELESS!

  5. This was beautiful. And encouraging. It gives me hope that one day my son will be able to share in a similar rite of passage. That coach was one of the good ones…

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  7. What a beautiful story. It’s so hard to watch other kids get all the accolades—all the attention and praise. How wonderful that your daughter got what she deserved! And what better Christmas gift can you ask for than that?

    Well written, Jessica.

  8. This is just so beautiful, Jessica. I am so happy that your daughter’s coach is one of those who “get it.” My son is likely never going to be aware enough of being different to crave that acceptance, but I can clearly see how painful and tough a road this is for your daughter.

    • I thought that for the longest time Varda, that she would never fully get it and then all of the sudden she did and it made things much more difficult for both of us.

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