What’s So Special about Boo Boo Jeffries*
All parents would – or at least should – say their child is special.
We’re pretty sure we saw that rule in the official parenting handbook: “Mothers and fathers are hereby required to brag about their kids at any opportunity — to friends, family or even complete strangers at Target. To not do so will likely result in people assuming you’re a turd.”
So, yes, of course Boo Boo Jeffries is special. In fact, she’s extra special.
To be honest, though, we had our doubts. Like when our first child’s infant checkup revealed that her head only measured in the 10th percentile. “But that’s where HER BRAIN IS!” one of us exclaimed.
OK, it was Dad. He had big plans for Boo to attend Hogwarts — plans that were going to require some serious think-power.
Just a couple of years later, though, we began to worry that her head had grown too big. Boo was sassy and headstrong as a toddler, once reacting angrily when her father gently suggested that her carefully chosen turtleneck, wool skirt and tights might be a wee bit warm for a hot summer day.
“DON’T TELL ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE!” 2-year-old Boo shouted.
We held our breath for a few years. But as time went by, we realized we could breathe easy. Boo has matured into a responsible, motivated, caring and polite young woman with a head that, by all appearances, is perfectly proportional to her dreams.
She still wants to do things for herself. If she goes to a lecture and doesn’t quite grasp the lesson, she grabs a textbook and researches online to teach herself the material.
She’s tenacious and driven. If Boo finishes her work for the week, she doesn’t spend the weekend relaxing, which would be perfectly acceptable. Instead, she marches ahead. She’s never not thinking and planning and figuring out her next move. Her commitment to preparation is reflected in the study guides she prepares for herself — neatly printed, color-coded and painstakingly organized.
Boo has high standards and expects a lot of herself. Her college shopping has never strayed from the top page of the “Best of” lists in her preferred fields of study, computer science and engineering. She’s worked hard to build a resume worthy of her aspirations.
While that work can be all-consuming, Boo isn’t interested in shortcuts. On occasions when her peers plagiarized papers or reviewed test copies discovered online, Boo stood firm, studied hard and accepted the need to compete on her own merits. Her best would have to be good enough. As her grades suggest, it has been.
Boo has never been interested in the easy way out. As a rising young club volleyball player in a time-consuming sport, she saw her travel-team peers choose less challenging high schools to preserve a more manageable lifestyle. But Boo knew Hogwarts had the best academic reputation in town and wanted to get the best preparation possible for her collegiate studies.
A serious ankle injury during her sophomore year sidelined a promising season. She could’ve skipped practices and games (like her mom suggested) to get ahead on her homework while she recovered. No one would’ve blamed her. But, she is part of a team. So Boo never missed a practice or game, cheering on her teammates even though it killed her to be unable to play.
That same injury hampered her playing time the following year as she watched other teammates start ahead of her. She was frustrated and upset, but she didn’t give up. Instead, she soldiered on, practiced harder, did her best and supported her team.
Between school and volleyball there’s not a lot of time for much else, but Boo believes in the importance of giving back to the community and helping others so she volunteers for an organization that supports homeless teens. She writes for the local nonprofit’s newsletters and website, informing others about its important mission to keep these young people on a path to graduation and success despite their hardships.
Also noteworthy is Boo’s incredible compassion. She has a sibling with special needs, which is challenging, but it’s given her a sensitivity and patience rarely seen in someone so young.
Because this essay is focused on Boo’s academic profile, we’re going to have to gloss over some pretty important aspects of her character — her kindness, her sardonic wit, her excellent, well-cultivated taste in food and music. We won’t dwell on her personal challenges, which include bouts of high-achievers’ anxiety and her blatant disregard for health-code violations when it comes to the state of her room. She wanted ocean-themed decor. Well, it’s become the Pacific Garbage Patch.
We will instead return one last time to her work ethic. After three years, the rigorous life of a high-achieving student athlete hasn’t presented Boo with any problem she hasn’t been able to work around or — more often — straight through. That kind of willpower has helped her make it to her senior year of high school with grace and dignity intact, and with a strong sense of self that will serve her well going forward.
So that’s why Boo’s special. We will consider it an honor to go broke in furtherance of her academic pursuits. She’s a super star, a standard setter whose achievements will someday be discussed with reverence by future generations of Jeffries — and, perhaps, by the people standing behind us in line at Target.
-Mr. and Mrs. Jeffries
*Not her real name and in fact a moniker swiped from a hilarious Tiffany Haddish “SNL” skit. Look it up.
**Not her real high school.