Thursday, June 3, 2010


Wrote this a year ago. Still rings true ... especially around this time of year. 
I did manage to get to one end-of-the-year awards ceremony — Santa Lucia Jr. High. They don’t tell you if your child’s receiving an award at this school — so last year I didn’t go and my daughter was honored — another moment from the Kirsten Hall of Shame. So after inadvertently blowing off my son's awards ceremony last week I made sure to take time off and was there with bells on this morning. My girl said she’d at least be receiving the perfect attendance award. What mom wouldn’t fully support that?

I’m sitting among parents whose children are receiving awards in band, math, science, language, history, PE … but not one for my baby girl. Not entirely her fault. Her friend is an exceptional student and swept every category. My daughter did indeed receive the attendance award (along with about 100 other students they called up to the front individually — it was an excruciatingly long ceremony!) Then it happened. They announced the honor roll students … Oh yeah, she did make honor roll the first quarter. So she got to go up. She was beaming. I was happy for her. The friend's mom turned to me and said “Yay!" I gave her two thumbs up and said, “We got one!”

I’d give my daughter 50 awards for her efforts this year. She may not be a straight-A student, but she gives 100 percent and is kind to every soul she meets. I couldn’t be prouder.

Many of my former preschool students were honored (some are in sixth and seventh grade now). I was happy for them. They’re hard workers and really deserve it. And I can’t say I don’t take a little of the credit for giving them their academic start. But my heart goes out to the kids sitting on the bleachers whose names were never called. (That was my boy … always.) To have to sit there for two hours watching everyone else in the school rake in the honors. Who’s to say these kids aren’t just as special or talented as the ones doing exactly what their teachers expect of them? It’s clear the kids on the bleachers don’t fit into the “ideal student” mold — whatever that is. But are they less special? Delinquents? Today’s ceremony didn’t do much to dispel any negative beliefs these kids might have of themselves, did it? Sad, really. I think the opposite of the bleacher kids. These are the ones who will go on to do amazing things … if they know they’re loved and are lucky enough to be inspired.

I don’t think I like awards ceremonies very much.


  1. I can really relate to those "bleacher kids", because that is who I was... Or maybe, that is who I am?
    It's hard to really know this "early" into the game if we are doing anything "amazing" with our lives or not, isn't it? I have always been the one behind the scenes, not the up-front guy that gets the attention. Funny thing is that the one time that I tried that (up front guy stuff) I fell on my face and failed miserably.
    Yet, I still believe that I have done some good things that have paid dividends over the years.

    Just some thoughts from one of those bleacher kids...

  2. Unfortunately the Awards are not given for the right reasons according to me. Are they given for kids with the biggest hearts, or those that extend the kind gestures, for the most compassionate friends, or even the most intellectually stimulating children . . . the deep thinkers? Believe me, if this WAS the case Cliffie and Melissa would each need a wheelbarrow to take home their pile of Awards. Less special? I think not! Time and life experience will shed light on this for them, and until then they have quite a cheerleader in you =) Lucky kids!!

  3. Ugh, I hate those awards ceremonies too. I remember all to well the feeling of expectation, knowing that I wouldn't get one but feeling deep down that I must get one, the struggle with expectation management that I always have. It's not any better when you're older, either.
    Just last week I was invited to the awards ceremony for the graduating art & design students from cal poly. I didn't go. I didn't want to re-visit that feeling of failure and jealousy toward the students who did get awards and who will go on to be amazing. And believe me, they are the ones who go on to have successful careers and make big money. Actually, I think that kids who are driven by that stuff from a young age often continue on that path of traditional success. But I sometimes wish there was a way to give awards to people who have different priorities so we might feel like less of a failure.

    WE SHOULD THROW A PARTY! Where everyone is nominated by their friends for awards, and there is a ceremony to give them out! That would be awesome.