I was 5 years old going to the Deer Valley preschool near the 6th drive house. I honestly don’t remember much from those days. I remember listening to some stories, painting and doing show and tell. Once I brought in an Apache burden basket my parents received as a gift when they were pastoring in the White Mountains during the 70s. I’m not sure if my fellow preschoolers were impressed, but I remember my preschool teachers eyes lighting up like she was looking at the cup on Indiana Jones. I remember one evening both of my parents picked me up alone. It was odd because usually, it was just my Mom accompanied by Camie or Joy. The end evening nautical twilight commenced as we walked down the outside of the glass buildings. My parents stopped to look at some artwork. Low and behold they saw my name next to one of the paintings.
I had painted Leonardo from Ninja Turtles using watercolors. It was a decent painting considering I was 5 years old. Or at least it was decent enough I got a grand prize ribbon. I remember seeing my parents faces. My Mom’s eyes lit up and my Dad just laughed with pride. They hugged me and said how amazing my painting was. I’ve always been introvert and calm when it came to accolades. The first time I played high school football as a defensive end I had a game-winning interception and walked off the field with no emotion as I was getting slapped on the back and eventually got a headache after our massive tackle head-butted me in excitement. My grand prize award for water coloring a Ninja Turtle felt the same. I think it’s because of how I saw my parents handle awards.
Walking through my parents’ house, you hardly see any awards hanging. And as a kid, it wasn’t very different. I can barely remember seeing awards or even degrees hanging, even though I know they received them. Lifetime achievement awards, tribal awards, faculty awards, etc. They never made a big deal of awards although they’ve been appreciative. They now sit in a series of dusty plastic storage bins in their garage. Through the years, I’ve always tried to maintain this type of humbleness although I have displayed my bronze star and other military awards for some years. I was reminded why it was important to remain humble a month ago.
My Dad and Mom were visiting from Fresno, and we were sitting in the living room watching the Office. As I was watching and working on my laptop, an email popped up, and it said I was selected for an alumni award. I thought I would humble brag (or not so humble brag) and looked to my Dad to let him know about my award. We both went to the same college, American Indian College. I said, “Hey Dad, guess what? I was just selected for the alumni award. Bet you never got that one?” He kept watching tv, paused a few seconds and said, “Actually, they gave me the first one.” We both just laughed, and I think Vanessa and my Mom were laughing hardest at the failure of my humble brag. I’m thankful to receive the alumni award today, but I’m also grateful for those around me that keep me humble.