Tonight was 5th grade recognition. She was not recognized for any award, she received two certificates. But no recognition. She shared with us a few weeks ago that they had to self identify awards and then share reasons they felt they were eligible to receive the award. I was impressed that she chose the service award and doubly impressed with what she chose as her supporting evidence. She wrote about some of the things she has done at church to raise money for a cow for an orphanage in India, she wrote about caring for animals for various friends in town. We prepared her for the likelihood that she wouldn't win, because she has a propensity to set expectations and be summarily devastated. And tonight it happened. And she was poised while holding herself together better than I ever could. I was proud, she was cut to the core.
She started at the school as a pre-schooler, in the fall of 2007. She has had many ups and downs along the way, but last summer we finally came to the realization that in addition to her ADD that she also has anxiety. These are super tough things to handle as grown ups but my kid? My kid has been working on facing her fears on Saturday mornings for almost a year. She doesn't like to play group sports, she tries things and then peters out. She does not have many friends. She is a kind soul and like the rest of the world, is just trying to figure it all out.
It is hard sometimes...it is hard to be her mom...it is hard to be her dad...and most of all it is hard to be her! She gets up every day and uses strategies to pay attention and uses strategies to keep her anxiety in check. She is very smart and loves to read. She likes science and her bravery amazes me! This summer she is going to a camp where she knows no one and will ride a boat every morning and night to get to the camp. She overcame much of her worries and got up on stage in three different shows for a concert at her school this past week. She is the first kid to get up and go sit with the kid who is alone at the lunch table. She is the first one to console a friend. But she received no recognition.
So I got to thinking...what is all this recognition about? Great at sports? Clap loud. Good in art? WAHOO! Orate well? There's a prize for that. Played in the band for two years? What about the first year? But what about all the kids, mine included, who are simply hanging on to get through the day. What about the kids who worry until they are sick, what about the kids who expend all of their energy simply to pay attention to what is being taught? What about the kids who can't read social cues? What about the kids who are left behind, the ones who go unnoticed? What about recognizing those kids? I think it is time to rethink what we are recognizing our children for.
I would like to award her the biggest award for SHOWING UP. Every day she shows up and gives it her all, and it is hard. I would like to give her an award for doing her best when every day it is way easier to just throw her hands up and walk away. Her mountain is a lot taller to climb than many of us and that is what I want to be recognized.
So to our sweet girl, you went without recognition tonight and it was painful for you, but we recognize all that you do and all that you are and you are loved beyond all measure. Tonight it stinks for you and I promise you, it will get better.