Dear Terrence,

Yesterday was Palm Sunday. As our family has Polish roots, we follow Polish traditions, and one of those traditions is the making of elaborate palm branches for Palm Sunday. I guess it started by simply adding some kind of decorations to a palm frond. It’s something altogether more elaborate now, involving multitudes of flowers and decorations. They look something like this.

2016-03-20_1458467202 That’s what they’re supposed to look like. Ours didn’t quite look like that because of a lack of materials and a lack of experience. Allow me to explain.

My wife is the Polish connection in the family. Born and raised in Poland, she has these traditions in her very blood, and she’s always made our palm. When the Polish families gather for Palm Sunday, she often won the contest for best palm. This year, she decided she didn’t want to do it. “I have too much to do,” she explained simply enough. Our daughter, Maria, was going to make a palm but then decided against it. Since I’m always looking for time to spend with our kids doing genuine constructive things, I suggested that we make the palm.

VIV_0462-2We used materials we had in the yard and did the best we could. It was, though, very plain. “Ale ladna korona!” my wife exclaimed, but we knew it wasn’t really beautiful but rather plain.

We entered it in the competition, but compared to the other, larger, more elaborate palms, it looked a little out of place. We knew it would look like we had created it blindly, in fact.

We knew that we weren’t going to win. We knew that we would stand a chance. And we knew this from the moment we set out creating our palm. But that wasn’t really the point. The point was spending time together, solving a problem together, laughing together — just being together. So it was a failure, but a roaring success.

How does this connect to you? You don’t like embarking on something unless you feel certain it’s going to be an unqualified success. That’s why you’re eager to play basketball, joke in the hallway, and flirt with girls but not so eager to do work in my class. Your reading level is very far below expectations, and you struggle with just about everything you’ve ever tried in class. But sometimes, success is bigger than doing well at something. Often that’s the case.

I hope our time together this year has taught you that, at least to some degree.

Your Teacher


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