MS. RENO: I promised her a long time agothat I'd get here, and I did. But thank you for yourpatience. And to you juniors and seniors andsophomores, when talking to a freshman, remember to dowhat your president did for me. She was a year older,and she made me believe that I could be somebody. Mygraduation weekend I sat next to her mother, and hermother, more importantly, had become a lawyer, hadbecome a distinguished trustee, and she truly made mebelieve it. Each one of you can reach out and touchsomebody and make a difference. I asked some of yourclassmates tonight what I should talk about, and theysaid, \"Yourself.\" And I said, \"Nah.\" I will talk justbriefly about a subject that I really cannot talkabout. One of the joys of the job has been to welcomeministers of justice from emerging democracies ineastern Europe or in South America. The law isbecoming and the criminal justice system is becomingmore international in its origins and its results, andit is imperative that we reach out around the world,but as these people come to talk about democracy, theycome with stars in their eyes, but with suchlimitations and such frustrations. They come backsometimes out of office or their democracy somewhatmarred. You realize in talking to them how fragiledemocracy is. You realize that we must never, evertake it for granted. And the strength of our democracythis evening is an example of Americans who have nottaken it for granted, who gave their lives onbattlefields, who stood for unpopular causes in thelegislative and Congressional halls, who have servedthis country with distinction. Just remember that eachone of you can make a difference. The one thing Iwould ask you, if you're idealistic, don't lose youridealism. If you aren't, get it, because you reallycan by your actions make this a better world, and ifyou can't make it a better world, you can keep it fromgetting a lot worse.
MS. RENO: So there are so many rewards. How did I get here I learned a valuable lesson from alady who is my best friend, my mother. We lived in alittle wooden house when I was eight years old, and myfather didn't have enough money to build a biggerhouse. Mother announced one afternoon she was going tobuild a house, and we said, \"What do you know aboutbuilding a house\" She said, \"I'm going to learn.\" She went to the brick mason, the electrician, theplumber, and she learned how to build a house. Shecame home, and with her own hands dug this foundationwith a pick and shovel. My father would help her withthe heavy work at night. She put in the wiring, theplumbing. I like plumbers better than electricians,because the electricians wouldn't give her a permit,because she was a woman. The plumbers let her do it onher own. My father would help her with the heavy work,and that house stood there, and she and I lived thereuntil she died, just before I came to Washington.
Don't forget to laugh at yourself, and ifyou can't laugh at yourself, find a brother or two thatcan. It's very important that you don't take yourselftoo seriously. Whatever you do, cherish your family. Idon't know what I would have done in these last sevenand a half years if I hadn't had family to call andjust talk to them about my feelings. They are yourmost precious possession. If you're going to havechildren, demand of your workplace that they provideyou with the time to be with your children, bothparents. If we can send a person to the Moon, we oughtto be able to organize the work places of America togive parents quality time with their children. Time tonurture, time to bond, time to read them books, time toplay baseball with them, time to teach them how to bakecakes and to appreciate Beethoven symphonies, andhopefully they won't be like my mother who wasprejudiced against Dickens.
How to do it. Parenting. We can bebetter parents. We can learn to read to our children. We can take the time. At her memorial service, I saidof my mother, I started the eulogy by saying, \"Winkin',Blinkin' and Nod one night sailed off in a wooden shoe,sailed off in a wooden shoe.\" It was just as if shewas speaking to me. Your children will remember that.
I remember my teachers. One could readChaucer and make it just come alive. But then one dayshe returned papers to us and said, \"Now, there are twopeople that have exempted the test or the test that wasgoing to be an essay that follows. Ms. Reno, you andso and so do not have to write this essay. What didBlake mean by the tiger\" And I was so appalled thatanybody would ask me, \"What did Blake mean by thetiger\" That I just -- was disturbed. I never askedher about it. I graduated. And I saw her about tenyears later. She was standing at her mother's hospitaldoor, so I didn't -- was a little dubious about whetherI should raise it, and finally I did. \"I've got to askyou, why did you ever assign that to us It was such astupid question.\" She said, \"My dear, I must have beendrunk.\"
There are some who didn't have mothersand fathers who could convey that benefit, that mightjust be able to convey love, which is an awfulimportant affirmative action, because there are a lotof kids that don't have that, but my concern is, whywait until law school Why not create the levelplaying field in appropriate prenatal care, appropriateEdu-care, appropriate health care, appropriatesupervision after school and in the evening with equalelementary schools and the like In other words,provide the affirmative action along the way, and forthose people who don't have strong family structures,provide programs that will help them in high schoolprepare for college admission tests. But most of all,we all have something to offer.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I went to a rural highschool in Maine. I just had a question about that. Wedidn't have enough funding to hire teachers that were(INAUDIBLE). We didn't have a job program or(INAUDIBLE) program. We had a 30 percent teenpregnancy rate. We graduated kids with fifth gradereading levels. How do you think the government shouldaddress public spending for education, and how are yougoing to assure that schools like mine don't fallthrough the cracks
I think we can do a lot more with longdistance learning than we have. I will have to tellyou that I don't think there can be -- my motherwouldn't let us watch television because she said itcontributed to mind rot. We didn't have a televisionin the home except we rented one to watch the man landon the Moon. There is something alien to me aboutcanned speech. There is nothing that substitutes for ahuman being standing in front of you explaining ageometric theory or reading you a poem or telling astory or instructing you how to write. There's nosubstitute for the real teacher, but if we can'tdevelop enough teachers to get them to rural America,then let us figure out what we can do to improvecybertechnology and communications so that we get thenext best thing to them in a forum that can be veryinstructive. Interactive video, other programs, thingsthat inspire people.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. My name isJessica, and I'm a sophomore here, and both of myparents are 7th grade teachers, and one of -- mystepfather teaches in Hartford in an inner city schooland my mother teaches in suburbia, but they both seemto have the same sorts of problems. Not the sameproblems exactly, but the same source of the problem.My stepfather came home with blood on his shirt frombreaking up a fight, and my mother continually has moreand more problem students in her class, you know, thestudents with the sheet of paper that explains, youknow, their differences. And I think that the root ofthis problem is the lack of parenting, and I was justwondering, how are we as a nation supposed to pick upthe slack for parents that are not doing their jobs
I am a single mother. So now she is everything for me in this world. I just want to be the best mother and give her all the happiness a mother can give to her child. I follow your blogs and I think this blog will help me a lot. Wish me good luck!
Your article was very helpful. Thank youIt has helped me to inspire a letter to my daughter whom I have been estranged from. I want to remind her of all the things I did while raising her a a single mom.I thought creative should be added to your list.If your have anything on estranged mothers please let me know. And yes, I did all these things but life has brought me onto a dark path. Doubt has been eliminated, now I just want to let her know that she is loved.
this is such a great little article , I love this amazing words for us young mother , I love to read and learn new things everyday about how us mother are not perfect but how we can do our best and that makes it enough !!!!
I am a good mother to three children. I make time for each of my children. I am a graduate student, I work and I am going through a divorce. love my children unconditionally. I just wish my oldest daughter would have better self esteem. 59ce067264