Saturday, February 1, 2014
Awards and Tears
Report cards went home today, and it is time for the quarterly awards. We used to have a big assembly, inviting parents, and called the award-winners to the front to receive their new pencil and a coupon for free ice cream or whatever local businesses donated. Then it was changed to the classroom -- the counselor brought the awards to the room and gave them out. But today, she brought all the coupons and shiny new pencils to me and asked me to just put them in their planners to go home with no ceremony at all -- she said she just couldn't take the tears anymore. In the past, we have often had kids crying because they didn't get an award -- and I understand that she wanted to avoid that. But I thought it would be a good experience for them, and decided to take a chance on the tears. So I explained what the awards were, and then asked them -- "Who do you think is the best reader? Who knows the most words?" That was easy -- Seth knows more words than anyone, and they had no problem with that. Then I asked, "Who is really good at math? Who always knows the answers?" They knew that, too. Michael is always quick at raising his hand with answers to math questions, so he got the math award. As I gave out awards for writing, conduct, respect, responsibility, and good judgment, there were no tears because even a five year old knows which kids deserve the awards. And I told them that there will be more awards at the end of the next grading period, and everyone will have a chance. If you try hard to follow the rules and practice your words and work on improving your writing, then you can get the awards next time. They all accepted that and we had no tears. Sometime during the year I try to make sure everyone is recognized for something they have accomplished, but if everyone gets something every time, it is meaningless.
As a mom, I was pleased when my kids got certificates for "Good Citizenship" or whatever, but when my little ADHD son was in kindergarten, he got an award for "Most Improved." I will have to admit it -- that really annoyed me. I thought -- "You can't think of one thing special about my boy except he is not as bad as he used to be? What about "Most Creative" or "Most Curious" or "Best Builder"--- SOMETHING?? So, you will never see me give a "Most Improved" certificate, because I have been the mom of that child. The child who never got in the treasure box because he interrupted or played with his yogurt or wouldn't stay in his seat -- the child who got detention because he lost his homework or stuck a grape up his nose. The one who left the memory stick in the computer at school when all his semester work was on it and due the next day. The one who changed majors and colleges 3 times. The one who totally drove his teachers and his parents CRAZY! But, you know what? He made the Dean's List last semester and is (finally) about to finish college. So when I have these kids who are about to drive me over the edge, and parents who are tired of getting time-out notes, I understand. And I want to say, "There is hope -- don't ever give up!" When my boy gets that college diploma, I want to say -- "See, I knew he could do it!!"(as I do the dance of joy!!)