How to Be a Proud Parent to Your Child on Awards Day When He Doesn’t Win Any Awards

This is the time of year I ritually refer to as my Best Parenting Month. Note sarcasm. (I stole this idea from Jen Hatmaker. If you haven’t read her post, Worst End of School Year Mom Ever, you have missed out on a fundamental lesson in parenting. Even worse, you missed several key LOL moments and the chance to celebrate yourself for your parenting shortcomings that inevitably sneak out around the end of your child’s school year every year. Click here. NOW. MUST READ. Who wants to pass on an opportunity like that?)

Because… it’s May, and you are hanging on by your hot-pink, cannot wait a single second longer for summer, fingernails. May is a loaded month for parents of students– class parties, field trips, parent forms, permission slips, teacher requests and class orientations for next year, banquets, Muffins with Mom and Donuts with Dad, and a trillion other things I have blocked from my frontal lobe in a vain attempt to keep my sanity in tact and my hot-pink fingernails untarnished. We parents of school aged children all know, with the end of the school year comes the annual Awards Day Ceremonies courtesy of your local elementary or middle school campus. You know the drill: teachers award students for their outstanding achievements throughout the year.

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Certificate for Perfect Attendance!
(This kid has either been blessed with Super Parents or a bionic immune system. Or he’s in very bad need of scheduling eye, teeth, and well-check appointments. Either way, he deserves a nod.)

Most AR Points Earned!
(Oh, you are not familiar with “AR”? Well, you do not live in Texas. Foreigners just won’t understand.)

Mr./Ms. _____________________ [insert school mascot here, an especially adorable title for the kindergarten set.]
(A piercing bright light will momentarily blind you as this child takes the stage. No worries, it’s just her recently shined halo. You get used to it eventually. Before the ceremony began, her parents were escorted by a tuxedo-clad usher to their reserved seats down front and center. You only know this through heresay, of course. You snuck in the back to occupy space in the standing room only section– otherwise known as The Latecomer’s Section– about ten minutes after the ceremony began. Needless to say, your child won’t be winning this award any time soon. One of the prerequisites for this award is for students to be the offspring of the kind of parents who are completely alien to the standing room only section of the auditorium. Your kid was beat before he ever began, really. But, I’m sure he’s good at other things.)

If your school is like ours, then technically no elementary child will walk away without any awards. This is when the teachers really shine! Their creativity and ambiguous use of diction help to make every child feel special.

Oh look! You got the award for Best Smile!

And here’s one for you: Best Paper Passer-Outer

Then: Strategically Completed the Analysis of Strategies certificate

Next up, Returned All My Library Books Award!

And lastly, don’t forget: Asks the Most Questions certificate

Now, my kids are still fairly young. I haven’t been to a ton of these things yet, but I’ve got to say the whole thing makes me feel uneasy. Because my mind is a carousel that never runs out of tokens, naturally I’ve spent way too much time analyzing this. But I think I’ve got it now. When I attend the end of the school year awards ceremony (or occasionally take my place in the standing room only section, don’t judge), I sometimes have to repress this very primal, competitive feeling that threatens to creep out at some unsuspecting moment. I wouldn’t say I feel jealous of other parents whose children seem to win every award. I don’t wish the halo-adorned student were my own child to take home after the ceremonies. I mean, come on. I’ve got to get home to cook dinner anyway. I’d have to skip the subsequent parade in her honor. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

So, why do I get all antsy inside at these things sometimes?

Because I desperately want it to be my child’s turn to feel special at some point. 

None of my children needs to be the best at everything to satisfy me. I want them to reach their potential, for sure, but none needs to be the smartest, run the fastest, learn to read first, or waste time shining their halos to make me proud to be their mama.

Regardless of which awards they’ll win this year, which will be long forgotten in a few short years anyway, I am proud of them for a hundred things Awards Day may never notice. My shy, introverted kindergartener finally opened up to his teacher enough to read aloud to her around mid-December. He even promoted to reading aloud to a first grade group in his G/T meetings! My people-pleasing third grader has become more adept at making his own decisions and making his opinion known to his friends, something we only dreamed of in the past. And the list continues just like it does for your own child… making friends with the special needs student in the classroom, learning to tie shoelaces, writing names independently, completing the first solo flight on a chapter book, standing up to a bully in the hallway, completing every homework assignment on time, keeping up with a student planner for the first time, passing the ever-lovin’ STAAR test, and for the littles, just learning how to sit down in a chair and to keep quiet and walk in a straight line in the hallway. (You have not seen A.DOR.A.BLE until you’ve watched a whole line of tiny 5 year-olds with their duck tails and bubbles move down the hall!)

Remember, parents, that this one ceremony does not add to or take away from the total value of our children. More importantly, it doesn’t add to or take away from your total value as a parent.

My children are good kids, just like yours. I know their hard work over the course of the year will be recognized. I also know they are SO MUCH MORE than the colored card-stock they’re sent home with on Awards Day. Maybe my sons’ arms will be overloaded with certificates this year; maybe they’ll rush to me with a wide smile plastered to their little faces as they proudly show me their “Line Leading LIKE A BOSS” awards. I’ll be no less proud.

I’m their mama. It is my duty, and my pleasure, to be proud of them. I need them to know that I will always feel this way, regardless of how the world validates them.

This. Funny. The kind of mama I want to be.

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Because Jen Hatmaker Told Me To

Things I love: sarcasm, the smell of books, children (yours, mine, the loud one in the next aisle, any and all of them), sleeping, using the restroom without interruption, laughing so hard incontinence becomes an issue, and WORDS.

Things I hate: loud noises, multi-tasking (how have I made it so long as a teacher then?), questioning myself (oh, see what I did there?), arguing with my husband or children, the dark, and waiting for feedback after clicking “publish” on my blog.

Jen Hatmaker posted some valuable advice on her blog last month, and in it she encouraged quiet writers like myself to force ourselves to write, write, write and publish, publish, publish.

Easy for her to say… She’s sitting on the sunny side of publishing, with a few or a dozen or a million or so books penned in her hand, something like 8 trillion followers on her blog, and pretty entertaining appearances on HGTV. But, I think she is pee-your-pants funny, so I’ll at least humor her and force myself to write, write, write and publish, publish, publish this week.

Writing for a public, knowing actual eyes that belong to actual people will read your words and will form actual opinions of you is HARD. You feel vulnerable and oddly defensive. You know that most of what you publish will fall on deaf ears. But… you know in the deepest parts of your heart the power found in words. “Words are power” they say. And when it’s your words that resonate with readers, you feel like you’ve hit the grand slam of publishing. Every once in a while, you print something really worthwhile. And it’s satisfying… and exhilarating… and terrifying all at once to understand the impact you’ve had on another person because of your words.

I think that’s why I so deeply cherish my love-hate relationship with writing. Much like my relationship with Grey’s Anatomy, which is obviously past its expiration date, submitting myself to an affair with Writing will inevitably be painful, but I just can’t quit it.

To the other Quiet Writers out there like me: it’s intimidating, this publishing process. However, let’s agree we owe it to ourselves to keep writing, even when we cringe at the thought of hitting “publish” and our dismal stats stare back at us from the dashboard.

No matter how busy we find ourselves or how demanding our “real” jobs feel (10 school days until my STAAR test! EEK!), let’s vow to keep publishing.

Even when you are so exhausted, you fall asleep at 7:45, foolishly thinking you’ll just lay down for a minute to pat your son’s back while tucking him in for the night.

Even when your schedule is so tight, the only pedicure you can swing is soaking your feet in the baby’s bath.

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Even when your kids’ lunch consists of an eclectic mix of gogurt, pop tarts, and fruit snacks because saying “a trip to the store is long overdue” is a gross understatement.

Even when your gourmet dinner is courtesy of Sonic.

Even when date night means you’re still awake when your man changes the channel to the 9:05 late start baseball game.

Even when you’re so pressed for time, your Quiet Time consists of a quick scroll through Instagram for a brief reflection on Priscilla Shirer’s inspirational quote of the day. (That makes it Biblical, right? That’s basically like reading the Bible.)

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Even when some days leave you so frazzled, you utter a not-so-silent prayer instead of losing your mind on your 8-year-old who asks about his video game time for the 64859964.5 time in one day, even though you created an elaborate video game schedule to avoid this exact conversation.

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Even when you create a new version of the messy bun because you realize in the haste of your rushed mornings this week, you’ve already worn your hair up every day. And now it’s Thursday.

And when you’ve typed an ENTIRE 700 word post using only your index finger and an iPhone because your computer is on the fritz and your last shred of sanity is hanging on by a mere thread… (Not that I’ve done that. Not that I’m doing that right now. Not that I’m DYING INSIDE waiting for our tax return so I can get a working laptop!)

And finally, when you know in your head that hard work pays off, but you’re growing impatient to see the proof.

Those are the times we push ourselves, Quiet Writers, and keep writing. Our words need to be published! We can leave them screaming in our heads, or we can disclose them to the public. Who knows? Maybe your next post will be your grand slam.