Here in the Philippines, most schools hold an annual event called "Recognition Day." My kids' school had their event yesterday morning.
This is held at the end of the school year and medals and certificates are handed out to students per grade level for their academic achievements: e.g., first-, second-, third-honors, etc., Best in Math, Best in Science, Best in Filipino, Best in English, and so on. Parents go onstage to hang medals or pin ribbons on their children and pose for a Kodak moment. I was a tad taken aback to learn of an award called "Best in Sensorial Development." Yeah, I know sensorial development is somewhat important in the Montessori method of education, but it still made me laugh inside because of inadvertent mental associations with sartorial development, and that's one category I'll always get a D in (most of the time, anyway.)
It amuses me how unnecessarily long-winded these ceremonies are. The awardees parade down the aisle (by grade level), then teachers and school administrators walk down the aisle one by one while someone bleats over the loudspeaker each person's academic credentials, then the parade of colors, then the national anthem, then a dance number by some faculty members, then the introduction of the guest speaker (more blabbing about said guest speaker's academic credentials and achievements), etc., etc. It's a full hour before the awarding of medals takes place.
So, anyway, two of my three received medals, but the littlest one didn't get anything this year. Though she wasn't heartbroken about it, it did disappoint her - to the extent that she shed tears over it. My children's dad and I have gone our separate ways but there's one thing that remains constant: our roles as parents. And in that aspect, one thing hasn't changed: that neither he nor I gives a rat's ass about school medals. We see the kids growing up well: kind, funny, smart, with exasperatingly smart-ass characteristics, so we aren't complaining. We don't need ribbons or medals to validate their worth. That kind of gewgaw isn't on our list of what we want and hope for the children.
Don't get me wrong. It feels good when you learn your progeny is about to be recognized for some aspect or another of academic achievement. It helps reinforce acknowledgment of their hard work. But for me (and for the kids' dad) it isn't the be-all and end-all to a child's growth and to his or her self-esteem. So neither he nor I browbeat any of the children with admonitions of getting an award. The littlest one wasn't bothered by the fact that she didn't get a medal this year per se; what troubled her was that maybe her dad and I would be disappointed in her - especially since her big brother and sister were to receive awards. She has been reassured about this, and she's OK now.
This brings to mind someone I once knew; she did all her children's school projects: writing book reports, making web pages, creating art projects. And she was really good at it. I didn't agree with her methods at all, but she enjoyed doing it. When her kids got high grades for their projects, I couldn't help but think she was the one who should've received the accolades - not her kids - since she did all the work. Me, I leave the kids to do their own homework; the most I've done is to type up book reports and such (my firstborn child actually prefers hand-writing such stuff on paper - to be typed and printed later) and to quiz them when exams are coming up. That's pretty much how my parents dealt with me and my siblings when we were still in school. We'll back you up, baby, but swim with the sharks as much as you can before we rescue your sorry ass! Which they never had to do anyway (school-wise).
In retrospect, though, my relationship with my mom (academically speaking) was a lot different when I was in high school than my relationship (in the same context) with my kids. My dad was pretty OK; very laid-back and non-demanding. He was proud and pleased whenever I received an award, he wasn't demanding in any way. My mom was a different story. If I got a silver award for something, she'd ask, "Why didn't you get the gold?" If I got the gold, she'd tell me, "Make sure you get it again next year." Make no mistake, I love my mom dearly; she's a supportive, stabilizing, loving, and comforting presence in my life. But there were moments when I was growing up that she made me want to jump off the highest cliff - cheerfully.
Makes me wonder what my children will be blogging about me in 20 years.
"My mom, Lizza? I love her madly, but when I was growing up, she made me want to..."