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The boy is 11.

Every year, I get super sentimental and this year was no different.

I often stay awake preparing to wake him up in a special way or with a surprise and this year he was in for the greatest surprise of his young life.

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100 pennies.

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I received an email the other day from the boy’s school. It was the secretary asking me for permission to use this photograph from the spelling bee the school was participating in.


Of course I said hell yes!

I was so proud of him because just a few months prior, he came home one day upset and frustrated. Slammed his book bag down and stormed off to his room. I approached him, asking him what was the matter. He replied “I’m a horrible speller!” I asked him why he thought so and he pulled out a spelling test from school with red markings all over it. At the bottom: 4/20.

I also remember a couple of weeks after that, he burst into my office proudly waving his spelling test. But this time a perfect score. We went to eat at his favorite restaurant that evening to celebrate.

That night I received this email, I told him how proud I was of him. How much he had grown from this kid who questioned his abilities and potential because someone with a red pen decided that they knew best what he should know right now. That now he not only had the courage to compete, but landed a spot in the news as a result of his courage. He just gave me an “awww, mom!” and happily ate dinner. But I was one proud mama.

I was always told by my grandmother that pennies will eventually add up to a dollar, if you just find the value in each one. I celebrate these small moments with him, because one day I know they will add up to some really awesome an amazing.

Just like this kid.