This post is for those parents who have a child who doesn’t get recognized at award ceremonies. But let me just say, if you’re reading this and your child gets merit awards, academic awards, excellence in math or science or reading, or honor roll or perfect attendance…be proud of them. It’s okay. Even God said of Jesus,
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” – Matthew 3:17
Don’t for one second think you should cover it up to save the feelings of us parents who don’t see our kids on a stage with certificates in hand. Your child expects you to show that you are proud of them. They crave that and they need their hard work to be reinforced. Take the pictures and post them on Facebook because their grandparents want to see them and shout from the rooftops. If you didn’t do that, you child might think something was wrong or that they had fallen short somehow. So do it. Without hesitation. Those of us whose children don’t get awards will see you for the awesome parent you are and we won’t begrudge you this moment. Right guys? We are well pleased with our children too.
The night before the big award ceremony had arrived and I’d received no notification that I needed to be at the kindergarten award ceremony for my child’s moment on stage. I approached her room to find her teaching her imaginary class. “Baby, the award ceremony is tomorrow and your teacher didn’t tell me you were getting an award. So I really don’t think you’ll be getting one. You’ll need to be a good friend and congratulate your classmates when they get theirs. Do you want me to come?” She looked at me and said, “maybe I’m going to get one please come.” I said, “Honey, I love you and I’m proud of you everyday even if you don’t get an award. I’ll come if you want me to.” She said, “yes. I want you to come.”
I admit that I was less than thrilled about dragging her little sister to sit through an award ceremony where my child would never grace the stage. But I went to support her as she dealt with whatever emotions may come from the experience. It was fun to see all those smiling little faces as they marched up the steps and across the stage and to see all the excited parents rushing to the front to snap photos of their children.
My perfectionism made it difficult to see my child miss an opportunity to shine. Report cards were equally disappointing for me to receive. I’d expected to see her excelling since she’d had that year of preschool to get her prepared for kindergarten. The beginning of the year was okay but not stellar. Then as the year wore on, she began to receive that dreaded “needs improvement” in areas of her report card. If she were excelling and receiving awards then there would be no additional concern or worry for me. But this made me worry. What does this mean for her future? This is just kindergarten, what will the next 12 years bring?
For some reason, some kids just don’t excel in school. They struggle and there are any number of reasons for this. For mine, she struggles with anxiety. Imagine that, a perfectionist gives birth to a child with anxiety! She worries and her worries take all of her attention. My child is learning to control her anxiety right now and learning her phonics is taking a back seat. Teachers have to take extra time out of their day to calm her and reassure her. While, it’s the kids who make the teachers job easier that get recognized at awards ceremonies. I’m thankful for those kids too. It’s because of their initiative and their dedication that kids like my kid can get a few extra moments of attention.
They’ll Be Okay
We are doing what we can to help my child with her anxiety. As I’m sure you’re identifying what it is that’s keeping your child from excelling and helping them cope with that too. But remember, whatever that thing is, other people have struggled with it too. Plenty of them have gone on to thrive in this world.
I mentioned my concerns to my husband. He admitted that he didn’t excel in school. He didn’t get awards. He got by okay. Today, he’s doing better than okay. He’s taken the things that interest him and he’s always learning and applying what he’s learned. The awards and the report cards were not a good predictor of my husband’s future success.
I happen to think my husband is a genius. Maybe your kid is a genius. Maybe they are bored in school. My husband pointed out that he knew he was capable and he didn’t need some piece of paper to prove that. But our society likes seeing pieces of paper to reinforce that Johnny is capable. Johnny is going to be okay.
My husband used the example of army medic training. If you go through a challenging training course and pass then you receive a badge. Imagine you’re wounded and a medic runs to your side in battle, if you see that badge you know you’re in good hands. It gives you peace. It’s the same with awards, test scores, diplomas, degrees, certificates, and titles. There’s something behind them that give us reassurance that this person is capable. If there are no awards, certificates, or titles we worry about the likelihood of success.
Finding Their Spark
Our children ARE capable. God gives us all a gift. Its there inside all of us, waiting to be exposed. He wants us to use this spark to spread the light of His love around the world. Your child has one. My child does too. I’m working to identify it and my hunch is that it’s also the source of all this anxiety she has. Sometimes our greatest strength can also come out as weakness.
My husband’s genius (and perhaps his stubbornness) were his strength and weakness. In school, he was bored and I’m sure his parents and teachers wanted to beat their heads against a wall. But when he applied that genius to something he was passionate about, he excelled.
I’m still trying to figure out my daughter’s strength beneath the weakness. My hunch is that she’d make an excellent lawyer or referee or lifeguard or police officer. She’s preoccupied with the rules. She’s uncomfortable when a rule is broken or when a perceived injustice is taking place. She can’t cope with it. If we can teach her to channel that energy for good instead of letting it paralyze her then awesome things will happen.
6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:6-7
Perhaps we haven’t learned to harness our children’s spark or perhaps awards aren’t given for their particular gift. Regardless, the rewards in heaven are far better than the ones of this earth. So let’s keep our eyes on that prize. Pray for guidance. I’m going to do what I can and let God do the rest.