I’m sure this is going to shock most of you when I say there is something annoying me that I need to get off my chest. I’m usually so reserved and keep my feelings to myself, right?
Remember how I told you we were going to my nephew’s graduation? Well we did and it was wonderful. The graduates looked great and the speeches were fantastic – especially the one given by one the teachers. It was a perfect sendoff for 195 kids who were both excited and nervous about their futures.
We really enjoyed it – until they got to the part in the program called “parent awards”. They had all 5 Salutatorians give speeches where, for the most part, they told their fellow graduates how much they’d miss them, how thankful they were for their families, their teachers and everyone else who graded their papers, coached their teams and wiped their butts.
The “parent awards” followed that and as it turned out, they called the parents of the Salutatorians up one at a time and gave them a trophy. They didn’t acknowledge the other 190 sets of parents with graduates. This is where my rant begins so if you’re not up to it you might want to check out now.
Here’s my thing.
I am in no way trying to diminish the parenting of those 5 who were at the top of their class. BUT, what about everyone else? All the rest of the parents who struggled and fought and loved and supported their children all the way to commencement.
What about them?
What about the parents of the child with a learning disability who fought the system for years to get their child tested? The ones who spent twice as much time making sure their child comprehended the material enough to pass a test. The ones who lobbied on behalf of their children year after year to make sure their needs were being met.
What about the moms and dads of the kids who gave up the last year or so and fought all efforts to get them to finish? How about some credit for the parents who met with the principal and counselors day in and day out to make sure their son or daughter got the credits they needed to graduate.
Or the parents of the middle of the road kids who appreciated that sometimes, no matter how much effort, their children will be somewhere in the center of the bell curve. Despite all the help and encourgement, they will be C students. The parents who were proud of them anyway.
Where the hell are their trophies?
I can’t imagine that the parents who got the trophies loved or supported their kids more than the rest.
How do we know there wasn’t a Salutatorian or two who graduated with honors despite their parents? The kids who pushed themselves and got those grades despite deadbeat parents who were absent, just didn’t care or worse?
What if it was just easier for one or two of those top kids? I had classmates who graduated at the top but put in zero effort. I also knew kids who put in hours and hours and graduated by the skin of their teeth.
None of their parents deserved a trophy over the other!
Every parent has their own struggles – their own battles to wage to get their kids through those years of school. We can’t pick and choose who did the best job based on their child’s transcripts.
If any of my daughters get top honors, I won’t deserve a trophy! I’ve been known to put off checking homework for Bejeweled and Survivor.
If I get a trophy for one child and not another, does that mean I’ve failed one of them? Did I parent differently because they learn differently?
If one struggles with test taking in math but is a brilliant musician or artist does that make her, or me, any less worthy? If school is easier for one child than another is that a result of my parenting style?
I don’t think so.
Maybe if my daughters struggle in school because I’ve lost my battle with cancer and deserted them,then that’s my fault. I know that. But in that case, no matter the grade point average, SG will deserve a huge trophy! Not because of their grades but because he got them through.
It got quiet during that portion of the ceremony and I can’t help but wonder how many of the other parents felt just a little bit “less than”. How many of them questioned themselves on a day that should have been one of their proudest.
How could they justify honoring so few when so many deserved a hearty congratulations on a job well done?
In a world where every child, no matter his or her level, is celebrated as a winner, what of the parents?