Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Saturday, December 3, 2011

1 of 25: Mother of the Year

One day of December down, twenty four to go until Christmas (hence the "1 of 25" above).  And, boy, did I start out the month with a bang.

Wednesday night, the Small One placed into our hand a photocopied invitation to the "First Grade Second Six Weeks Awards Ceremony."  They started having these once-a-six-weeks programs when he was in kindergarten.  By my count, we have skipped seven in a row.  In case you couldn't tell from the immediately preceding sentence, I have a very ambivalent relationship with the once-a-six-weeks awards ceremony concept.  I feel roughly the same way about them that I do about "PARTICIPANT" ribbons.  Do we really need to pat our children on the back for showing up?  "Yay, you  made it through another six weeks of school."  Isn't that sort of expected?

Not that I have a better relationship with the end-of-year awards ceremony concept in its current incarnation.  Back in the day, if you were the best student in multiple subjects, you got multiple awards.  That's not the case now, in this time of the PARTICIPANT ribbon.  No, if the same kid is the best in, say, math AND in science, we pick one of those subjects out of a hat, give him that award, and give the other award to someone who came kinda close.  Okay, I'm on board with the general notion that no one benefits from getting a swelled head early in life.  Lots of cautionary tales of folks who peaked too early and all.  But let's not blow sunshine up the patoot of the kid who came in second but gets treated like he was first.  Kids being kids, he's probably all too aware that he didn't come in first (because no doubt my older child - I mean, the theoretical child who actually came in first - lorded it over him), so give it a different title. 

I would like to suggest the "You Were in the Ballpark Award."

I did not express these thoughts out loud when the Small One looked up at me with those soulful Antonio-Banderas-as-Puss-in-Boots eyes and asked, "Mommy, will you come to my awards ceremony?"  No, I said, "YES, I will come to your awards ceremony," because I am well aware that the Small One's parents are prone to yada-yada'ing over his academic career.  As in, his brother brought home straight A's yesterday, which was notable because he is on the fastest of fast tracks in his middle school magnet program, so it was a cause for celebration that shining atop the pile of A's was a high A in his ridiculously accelerated math class. 

The Small One also brought home straight A's, but this did not merit as much (initial) celebration.  Thanks to the Big Kid, we are used to seeing straight A's on elementary school report cards.  In fact, we saw them 36 times in a row during Big Kid's elementary career.  So the Small One making straight A's is sort of expected.

But that's not fair, is it?

So I told him that, YES, Mommy would be at his awards ceremony.  Then Thursday morning dawned, Spouse took the kids to school (offering chauffeur service to the Big Kid who didn't want to wait for the bus in the cold) and I started puttering around the apartment.  Said puttering included photographing our Christmas decorations for an upcoming series of blog posts (which I shall title "I Elfed the Apartment" or some variation thereof).

I was so busy photographing Christmas decorations that I kind of forgot about the awards ceremony.  I remembered it halfway through my shower.  And then I thought a four-letter expletive beginning with F.

For a minute, I thought about not even trying to make it.  But then I said, "No, Self, you MUST go to the entirely pointless fake awards ceremony.  You PROMISED."  And so it is that I left the apartment Thursday morning with wet hair, dressed only a little bit like a bag lady.  But - points in my favor - I left wearing makeup, deodorant, AND PERFUME, and both of my shoes matched, and I remembered my cell phone AND MY WEDDING RING.  I left the house at precisely the moment that the ceremony was supposed to start, and (thanks to my uncanny ability to navigate back roads) I pulled up at the school only 10 minutes late by my car clock (which means I was 8 minutes late in real time - clock is 2 minutes fast, and I have decided that I like it that way).

Fortunately, nothing ever runs on time in elementary school.  I ran into the auditorium just as the Small One's class was filing in.  I caught his teacher's attention, she caught his, and he looked up at me and simply beamed.

And I cried the first happy tears of the official Christmas season.  (Okay, I didn't actually cry, but my eyes got noticeably watery.)

I believe that my efforts merit me a "You Were in the Ballpark Award."  Don't you agree?  And I am actually happy that I attended, because - in addition to making my child's day - I discovered something of critical importance during the course of the awards ceremony:

Every child gets an award.

There are two types of awards:  Perfect Attendance and Excellent Conduct.  Some kids get both, but everyone gets at least one.

Do the math, people.  Attendance is a constant.  Either you were there every day, or you weren't.  So you either earn a Perfect Attendance award or you don't.  But if everyone gets at least one type of award -


I am now convinced that, if my "talks at inappropriate times" youngest son misses at least one day of school in each of the next four grading periods, he will "earn" himself four consecutive E's in conduct. 

By default.  Because if he doesn't get an E, then they won't have a certificate to hand to him during the fake awards ceremony.

This is not information that I had in my possession prior to actually attending a fake awards ceremony.  So, see, there is some upside to being a PARTICIPANT.

I'm not saying that I'm going to let my kid skip school.  But, with cold and flu season coming up and all - you know, I think a few absences are inevitable.

I shared my theory with Spouse when he showed up for the fake awards ceremony many minutes after I arrived.  (So many minutes, in fact, that I had had time to swing by the front office, log into the computer and claim my "Visitor" badge, which I demurely pointed out to Spouse when he arrived:  "BOOYAH!  I GOT HERE EARLY ENOUGH TO GET A VISITOR BADGE!  HOW DO YOU LIKE DEM APPLES?")

He was impressed with my powers of deduction.  And also with my badge.

I picked up more parenting points Thursday evening by accompanying both children to Movie Night at the elementary school, where we enjoyed a showing of "Cars 2" in our pajamas.  (Well, the Small One wore pajamas.  I wore my sort-of bag lady clothing from earlier in the day.)

All's well that ends well.

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