“Mom! I won you an amethyst, I just won an amethyst!”
I hurried to my mom’s car as she picked me up from my junior high school — me holding a white paper in one hand and me with a bright smile plastered across my face.
That was in the seventh grade, and in my Creative Writing class, my teacher informed the class about a poetry contest — Why My Mom Deserves a Diamond — dedicated to showing love and appreciation for mothers through poetry.
Established in 1993, Diamond Mike Watson created this competition in honor of his adoptive mother and birth mother whom he never knew. For students in first through 12th grades, the rules are to simply write a poem for your mother in 22 words or less, which are later judged and critiqued for originality and creativity by selected contest panel judges. An English teacher, however, has to collect a minimum of five entries to be able to submit them for the contest.
According to the contest application, two grand prize diamond winners are selected each year (the contest is in its 28th year) to receive a loose, quarter-carat diamond with a retail value of $599. First-place winners receive a loose amethyst, and second-place winners receive a loose garnet.
As a seventh-grader, I received the result of the poem I wrote from my teacher in class, and the words “amethyst winner,” seemed to jump off the page. I radiated confidence as I waited, bouncing up and down, until I got home to show my mom the poem.
I was too embarrassed to read my cheesy contest entry aloud, so like a typical, adolescent teenager, I handed her the paper cooly and walked a few steps away. Shuffling away into a room close by, I felt so happy to hear “aww,” from behind me.
I could hear her reading the poem softly to herself:
“A voice that cradles me / A loving whisper within my despair / Her laughter when I’m sullen / Singing comfort to my ears.”
I honestly have no recollection of what I wrote in seventh grade since my phone at the time broke before I could take a picture of my entry. However, the experience of picking up the amethyst at the jewelry shop in Santa Ana and taking a photo with my mom, the contest founder and my winning poem were enough for me to try again the following year.
So in eighth grade, my Creative Writing teacher handed out the same contest paper as an optional assignment. Knowing that I had won the year before gave me a confidence boost, so I crossed my fingers and submitted my poem once more.
I remember doing my best but also reassuring myself just in case if I didn’t win. I felt that I had nothing to lose, and if I did win something, it would be a great Mother’s Day gift.
However, I didn’t really keep it to myself and told her about my second submission for the contest. I chose to tell her since I had done it before, and we joked about how I should win two diamonds this time, though that’s impossible.
The feeling of anticipation faded after waiting a few weeks, and I’m not completely sure how long I really waited, but it was probably a month or so. Though I thought about it from time to time, I didn’t stress too much and patiently waited for my results.
Looking back, I tried not to focus too hard about winning the diamond most likely because I didn’t want to be disappointed when I really didn’t win it. But everything turned out for the best when I received a letter from m y teacher with my name on it.
Perhaps two diamonds would have been nice, but fortunately, since my mom’s favorite color is purple, I loved how well the amethyst suited her personality, vibrancy and style.
When we decided to make earrings out of the winning gems, we chose the standard earrings in silver for them. It’s not really a Mother’s Day surprise since my mom and I went together to pick up the prize, but she loved it nonetheless.
For me, seeing my mom smile was the greatest reward, even better than the amethysts. Though neither of us remembe what I actually wrote, she has a timeless gem that brings back fond, bubbly memories of this junior high school achievement.
When I had promoted from junior high to high school, I completely forgot about this competition and also assumed it was for first- to eighth-grade students. In light of this re-discovery, I was so surprised to hear this familiar name in my Advanced Journalism class and am quite eager to try again if I can find an English teacher to be my sponsor.
Perhaps with my maturity, expanded vocabulary and literacy as a junior, I might have a chance to win the diamond this time around.
Reading the diamond winners’ poems, I realize that having a creative theme for the poem makes a great diamond candidate! I haven’t told my mom yet, and if I do enter, I’m planning to keep this one a surprise!
Though my mom says it as a joke to bring home the diamond, I’ll definitely try. Or I could just win another amethyst and make that one into a necklace. That way my mom will have a set of earrings and a necklace to match.
I also appreciate how this competition brought my school community together, as we discussed back in my junior high school classroom what we wrote about and what gems we won. Recently I checked the contest’s website, https://whymomdeservesadiamond.com, and never noticed that my seventh-grade English teacher was in the video.
This is more than a simple poetry competition; it’s teaching students to be more appreciative and providing an opportunity to give back to our mothers and all they do for us.
If it means receiving a proud smile from our moms or receiving a gem, I’d say it’s a win either way.