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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Everybody Gets a Trophy

I am not a fan of not keeping score. 

I am a HUGE proponent of letting kids lose.  As I like to say, it's much easier to learn to lose when you're 6 than when you're 26 or 46.

We are not all superstars at everything.

In life, there are winners and there are losers.

So when I went to my daughter's second grade awards ceremony today at her elementary school- a quick 20 minute presentation-- I almost left when they announced that EVERY KID WOULD BE GETTING AN AWARD.


It's supposed to be for the kids who make the honor roll, get perfect attendance, etc.  The one time they get to shine for showing up and doing the work.

My kids always make out like bandits.

Every kid?  An award?

What's the point of an award if everyone gets one?

Plus, the ceremony started at 2:45 pm  My office is 20 minutes away.  I had a client meeting at 3:30.

Every kid was going to take some time.

Fortunately, my daughter's teacher went second and our last name starts with B, so I knew my daughter would be one of the first ones.  If I couldn't stay for everyone, I would stay for my daughter who was getting a "real" award.

The teachers announced each kid.  The ones who got honor roll and/or perfect attendance got awards.  The other kids got "special" awards for things like being nice, working hard or always trying their best.  I'm sure some of the teachers had to dig pretty deep to come up with some of these unique categories.  There wasn't any "I Haven't Choked You Yet" award, but I think some of the kids would have qualifed.

So as I sat there thinking "this is total bullshit..." I noticed one of the girls in my daughter's class that I work with on Fridays.

She is not doing well at school.  She doesn't know her letters or sounds.  She shared with me that her mom called her stupid.  I thought she was exaggerating.  If you listened to my daughter, you would think I gave her wine every night (ONCE!) and shut her head in the car door (okay, that I actually DID do, but it was an accident and she's fine).  Kids exaggerate all the time.

Then I met this girl's mother.  She introduced me as "that nice lady I told you about" (ahhhh....sweet).  So I said "Wow, your daughter is really doing well.  She's working so hard." The mother replied with - I kid you not- "Really? She's not really smart... are you sure?"

I did not slap her.

I really, really wanted to.  I watched the little girl melt into nothing.

So this afternoon, there she stood with her award.  An academic award. 

Or as I would say a "bullshit" award because academics is not her forte at all.

And the little girl had this amazing smile on her face-- a quiet one.  She looked at her certificate and this smile grew on her face.

An award.

For her.

She more than likely couldn't read it-- no joke. 

But I could see her stand a little taller.

And that smile.... I'm tearing up thinking about it.

She's 7.  She will probably not win a lot of awards in her life. Or maybe she will and this was simply the first one. She's 7.  Who knows?

In about 3 seconds, that little girl completely changed my opinion.

That award was not bullshit at all.

To that little girl it was the world.

And it was proof that she really did matter.

She wasn't a loser.  Because sometimes when you pick a winner, you inadvertently make someone feel like a loser.

My kids are going to have a good life.  They have books to read.  A warm bed.  A healthy lunch.  A college fund.

This little girl now has an award that she can show her mom and sad "See- I'm not stupid.  I'm good at something."  They didn't change her grades or test scores-- they gave her a colored piece of paper with her name on it.

So today, everybody got a trophy.

And I'm fine with that.

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