Tuesday, June 04, 2013


Andrew's elementary school does an awards ceremony every grading period.  They present ribbons and certificates and whatnot to the kids who have earned the honor roll, perfect attendance, and the dubious honor of "most improved" in you-name-it.  It's a quick and efficient little ceremony that parents are invited are attend, and all of the kids in the specified grade levels go watch and cheer on their classmates.  It's nice, for those kids being honored, but it can be a blow to the self-esteem for those who don't get anything.  I know this from experience. 
Second grade has been up and down for Andrew.  As is true with a lot of kids for whom things come easily, he spent part of this year unmotivated and trying to squeak by with a bare minimum of effort.  I have to accept the blame for that gene, I think.  Just ask my high school teachers.  Even the seemingly easy "Perfect Attendance" award isn't easy to achieve during flu season, for anyone who occasionally misses the bus, or who might get picked up early for a family trip.  (That's a sub-topic on this post...see the last paragraph for more on "perfect" attendance.)  Combine unavoidable absences with a bump in the academic road, and you've got a little kid who gets nothing.  There were a few grading periods where he didn't receive any awards, which crushed him!

So, for this kid of mine, whom I do not want to see become a slacker, especially this early in his school career, it's important that we make a fuss and try to be reinforce the good stuff.  He's sensitive (also my gene), and he takes the good and the bad to heart pretty easily.  So I told him I'd try my best to be there today, in spite of the fact that we were playing student-faculty volleyball and it's crazy at my own school during this last week.  I'm very glad I made it, because not only did I see his face light up when he saw me sitting in the risers at the back of the gym, but I got to witness a ritual I would have missed otherwise. 

Andrew sat respectfully during the kindergarten and first grade awards, but as the second grade awards began to be announced, I noticed him becoming more fidgety and excited.  The first thing that caught my eye was that he was sitting on his feet, and while I thought maybe it was so he could see over all of the rows in front of him, I soon realized it was something different.  See, Andrew didn't know he was getting an award like all of the other students did.  Notes are supposed to be sent home a couple of days in advance so that parents can make arrangements to be there, but Andrew's teacher has been out on leave and didn't send them home.  So I was banking on him getting one, but we didn't know for sure.  All of the other students who were getting awards were waiting patiently for their names to be called, and while I'm sure they were excited, the element of surprise--that "Oscar" moment-- wasn't there. 

Anyway, I soon realized that my reformed slacker was actually trying to give himself luck...he was sitting on his feet because he had his legs crossed under him.  He had crossed the fingers on both hands for luck as well, and at points, also had his arms crossed and his hands in front of his face like he just couldn't stand the suspense.  He REALLY wanted that award!  Thankfully, he was not disappointed, and was awarded Honor Roll recognition once again.  But is he now going to think that all that appendage-twisting actually worked?  I hope so...because I think believing in luck is sort of like believing in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.  It's only going to be believable for a while, until he realizes that there's some a lot of stuff in life we have no control over.  (Never mind the fact that there are certain pieces of jewelry I won't wear to JMU basketball games because they're unlucky...that's a different story.)  And as long as he doesn't start thinking unwashed socks or eating certain foods before karate tournaments are "luck," I'll let him keep believing it. 

Subtopic Alert:  Andrew would have had Perfect Attendance this six-weeks, but he missed a day to go to our dear friend's funeral last week.  And while at first he said that he wanted to go to school, we talked about the RIGHT reasons to miss school and how this was one of the very best and most important reasons to miss...way more important than a Perfect Attendance award.  My THING, though, is that he could potentially have been picked up early or gone in late to attend...and still not gotten the award, even if he had been there.  I know, I know, the word perfect is like totally or completely.  There are no degrees of perfect.  But if missing a couple of hours of school to bid farewell to a loved one means imperfect attendance, so be it.  He made the right decision, but he shouldn't have had to.  I'd rather he have character, anyway. 

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