By Chick Moorman
My daughter Jenny's right leg swung forward with equal amounts of force and precision. Her foot connected squarely with the soccer ball and sent it on an arching path over the goalie's head, under the crossbar, and into the net. The goal, her first in 43 American Youth Soccer Organization games, was greeted with the traditional back-slaps, high fives, and wide grins.
The spontaneous 90-second celebration that followed Jenny's first goal was warm, genuine, and esteem-enhancing. It recognized her individual accomplishment as well as the total team effort. But more importantly for us, it served as a signal to activate one of our favorite family rituals, for Jenny had just achieved a First.
Firsts: This term has special meaning in our family and is cause for celebration. Firsts are defined as any event, success, or goal achievement that occurs for the first time. These Firsts are benchmarks in our lives that signal an active participation in life and a willingness to take risks. They are visible reminders of our growth. As such, they deserve special recognition. Some Firsts we have recognized include: Randy pitching a shut-out; Matt learning how to read; me publishing the "Our Classroom" book; Jenny getting on the honor roll; me doing a workshop for teachers in a foreign country; and Matt learning to ride his bike.
Our celebration of each First is done on purpose, with a specific format, for a specific reason. We showcase Firsts by going out to dinner together. The individual who achieves the First becomes the focus person. He or she chooses both the time and place for the celebration.
At the appointed time we come together as a family to share a meal, acknowledge the individual, and practice our collective caring. The focus person takes the spotlight and tells about his special moment, communicating feelings, reactions, impressions, or any new goals he or she has set. The rest of the family listens without interrupting the narrative.
When the focus person has finished sharing, the rest of us participate by telling what we liked about either the First or the reaction of the person who produced it. Informal conversation follows until the conclusion of our celebration.
Celebrating firsts help us achieve two important goals simultaneously. The activity allows us to connect as a family as well as celebrate the uniqueness of the person being honored. I hope you will steal this idea and use it with your family, but remember, we did it first.