Weekly Column: Maybe I’m doing something right after all.

©Stephenie Freeman

Last week a letter came home from the Cheese Eater’s school. It was addressed “To the Parents of…”. As a parent, you can’t help but wonder if something’s up when an “official” letter like that comes home. We figured it was too early in the school year for anything to be wrong. Besides, we had asked the Cheese Eater every single day for the last two months how his day was, always receiving the repetitive answer of “good” so we assumed that it was.

The letter read:

Dear Parents, Your child has been selected to receive a special award at our school assembly. I would like to invite you to join your child in receiving this honor.

Well, you can just imagine how pumped I was to open a letter like this. I immediately called the Golfer at work and read him the letter.

“That’s great!” he said. “So what’s it for?”

“Um, well, I’m not sure. The letter doesn’t say.”

I looked over at the Cheese, who was busy enjoying his after-school snack and catching up with Scooby-Doo.

“Buddy? I got a letter saying that you’ve won an award. Do you know what it’s for?”

“What reward?”

“Not a reward. An award.”

“What award?”

I’ve had these sorts of “Who’s on First” conversations with the Cheese before, so I decided to stop before it got any worse and turned back to the phone.

“He doesn’t have a clue. Guess we’ll find out at the assembly.”

So there we sat. With cameras poised and ready, parents lined the school’s auditorium. The Monkey quietly sat, munching on a granola bar. He pointed to the Cheese as he told the man sitting closest to him, “That’s my brother.”

Yes, we were all very proud.

There were to be a total of four different awards given. The first awards were given for Effort. Six children, one from each kindergarten class, we given the award for “always trying their best.” The Cheese Eater’s name wasn’t called.

The next award was given in the area of Scholarship. As the principal explained, this award was given for a lot of reasons. “Maybe you’re a good reader, or writing, or good in math,” she explained. Six names were called, but the Cheese wasn’t one of them.

At this point our award winner started to tear up and put his face in his hands. He has watched two of his classmates go up and receive their award, and suddenly he was afraid that there had been a mistake. He looked over at me, looking for reassurance. I smiled, gave him my best thumbs up, and nodded trying my best to let him know that it would all be okay, that his award was coming, even though I was starting to wonder myself.

Turns out, third time’s a charm. The next award was given for Outstanding Citizenship. The principal explained that being an outstanding citizen meant that you do things to make the community around you a better place. You are considerate of others, you are polite, you use your manners, etc.

When his name was called, I tried my best not to tear up while looking through my camera lens. I was so proud that my young son had been recognized as being a kind and considerate person. To know that when he is out in the world alone he is doing his part to make it a better place, well there simply isn’t a greater compliment as a parent.

And every time I look at it tapped up on our refrigerator, I’m reminded that maybe—just maybe—I’m doing something right after all.

(note: originally published 2007, family.com)

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