Gabe. At 11 he’s already a gentleman. I’ve lost him behind a held-open door thinking he’s coming. A Wendy’s double burger with cheese, mustard, pickles, and lettuce will make his day. He could easily stuff down a Wendy’s triple, if he could just dislocate his jaw like a python. Gabe will share his last Swedish fish or a kind word. Whichever you need.
Gabe is my last homeschool student. His stellar work ethic means I don’t have to badger him to do A+ work. Grading his math is like checking inventory. Yep, check, yep, check, yep… and he writes 700 word stories instead of doing his three pages of grammar when he’s feeling rebellious. His handwriting is absolute scratch, but he types faster than most data entry clerks, so it’s only a problem in math. I taught Gabe to play chess and beat him the first two games. Haven’t won one since.
Gabe read every Harry Potter book four times before I sternly told him to stop. When he finds an author he likes, he’ll read every single book published by that author. That was when he loved reading, before Minecraft and gaming stole his heart. I can still hook him with a great book, but I have to assign it as a school subject.
When Gabe was eight he broke his leg on a trampoline. Really a hulking kid broke Gabe’s leg on a trampoline by landing on it. That summer, from his couch prison, Gabe watched Michael Phelps stun the world. The Olympic games have inspired many a future great. Had Gabe not broken his leg, he wouldn’t have stayed still long enough to get inspired.
Because we homeschool, participation in some sport is mandatory. It’s their gym, their socializing, their personal jungle. All our kids are required to play something. Before the trampoline incident, Gabe was an unwilling soccer player. With the break and the long road of rehabilitation, soccer became truly odious. Faced with having to do something, Gabe decided to try his hand at swimming. He loved splashing around in our pool, but he’d never had formal stroke lessons.
Not even a week before Gabe’s first official swim class, I bribed him with an ice cream cone to jump in the pool without holding his nose. Tiger mom, you say. I’m also cheap. That ice cream cone saved me at least $50 in a swim level. It was an investment.
I’ve posted before on Gabe’s meteoric swimming career because I’m plumb amazed by it. He just completed his second year of short course swimming and made the cut for YMCA Great Lakes Zones, placing and scoring points in every event, crushing his seed times and reaping the rewards of his dedication and toil.
Could Gabe become a Michael Phelps? He already is to me.
Reason: Gabe’s work ethic motivates me to work harder at my own little piece of hard, which is usually a 4 mile jog or a sweaty piece of time on the recumbent bike. Gabe was blessed to get excellent coaching and have his limits pushed, yet he takes it a step farther and watches technique videos on Youtube and implements what he learns. During the season, when Gabe had his eye on the goal of making Zones, he ate fish, beans, rice, and cut back on sugar. I didn’t tell him to. Basically, Gabe did everything possible to put himself in a position to achieve his goals, knowing that whether or not he achieved them was ultimately up to God.
Every night Gabe reads his Bible. That’s inspiring too. The Bible says He who is faithful in little is faithful in much (Luke 16:10). Gabe is faithful in little and in much. Let me not forget that, nor how Gabe, at 11 years old, inspires me.