Saturday, March 29, 2008

Going for the gold

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..."


Photo Cache said...

it's that time again, huh. as a student i really love these times, not the day itself, but the days leading up to the big day when all we did was practice our march and whatever else we had to do. they were the most fun because we could get goofy and naughty and the teachers dont mind at all.

congratulations to your brood. dont worry, you may not like what they write about you later on, but i'm sure it's all grammatically correct and syntax is perfect.

Lizza said...

Haha, that they will, Photo.

Back in my day, Recognition Day took one hour or so, tops. But I do remember the fun and goofy stuff that teachers used to turn a blind eye to.

Daddy Papersurfer said...

I think you said it all young Lizza.

I suspect that if something really important needs sorting then you'll all be there for each other which is the main thing.

As you know from blogworld, my little darlings show nothing but love and respect for me - tee hee.

[I wish I had to pay 'Sintax']

Lizza said...

Your little darlings do love you to bits and pieces.

[You never fail to amaze me with your syntactics.]

Daddy Papersurfer said...

Luckily for you, you've never had to witness my 'sin tactics' - not a pretty sight.

Turnbaby said...

YOur kids will benefit greatly in life because you have taught them to be self sufficient. I feel sorry for the children whose mother robbed them of that.

Lizza said...

DaddyP: Let me be the judge of that. :-)

TB: I hope so. I screw up a lot, but we live and learn.

kyels said...

My parents have never pressured me or my siblings academically. Though they're happy whenever we receive awards or certificates pero they don't give a rat's ass too. As long as we perform well in school and learn all the good virtues instilled in us --- they're happy. The constant reminder that my parents always give us is that education is for our own good and it's mean to help us in the future. They are really stern when it comes to responsibilities. B/c of their advices my siblings and I take heed of everything and try to perform our level best.


kyels said...

Typo ... "And it's meant to help us in the future."

Anonymous said...

they'll just say "I love her madly"

there won't be any "but"

Travis said...

This sounds a lot like my mom. She was always tickled when we got an academic award, but never fussed when we didn't.

She would ask, "Did you do the best you could?" And if we said we did, that was enough for her. If we didn't, she'd suggest that we work harder...not to get the award, but to make sure that we had done our best.

I think I prefer that approach. It helped me understand that I didn't need to be the best. And while I was trying to do as well as I could, I found that I was a good student and learned very well.

So cheers to you!

Anonymous said...

I always wonder what my kids will be telling their therapist one day!

Dean said...

Reminds me of Florante at Laura's Gintong Saknong:

Pag-ibig, anaki'y aking nakilala
'di dapat palakhin ang bata sa saya
at sa katuwaa'y kapag namihasa
kung lumaki'y walang hihinting ginhawa

sapagkat ang mundo'y bayan ng hinagpis
mamamaya'y sukat tibayan ang dibdib
lumaki sa tuwa'y walang pagtitiis
anong ilalaban sa dahas ng sakit?


para ng halamang lumaki sa tubig
daho'y nalalanta munting di madilig
ikinaluluoy ang sandaling init
gayundin ang pusong sa tuwa'y maniig.


ang laki sa layaw, karaniwa'y hubad
sa bait at muni't sa hatol ay salat
masaklap na bunga ng maling paglingap
habag ng magulang sa irog na anak

sa taguring bunso't likong pagmamahal
ang isinasama ng bata'y nunukal
ang iba'y marahil sa kapabayaan
ng dapat magturong tamad na magulang.

Non-Pinoys wouldn't understand this deep, poetic language; even I don't understand some of the words. But the overall theme is clear: to spoil a child is perhaps the worst decision a parent can make.

More power to you, Lizza.


Marky said...

Congrats on your brilliant children!

Does your mom read this blog? LOL

Sidney said...

To be honest I push my son to excel academically.
It is a competitive world out there and we better prepare our children to the harsh realities.
I regret I didn't learn more in school when I was young.
So I guess I am like your mother.
I am not even happy with the gold! ;-)

Greg said...

I am a New York Times bestselling author working on a new book about mother-daughter relationships and thought you might want to contribute. Please visit my page for details about submitting stories for Mom's Little Angel.

Gregory E. Lang
Author of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Mom” and more.

Bond said...

Do your is all we can ask.... that was the lesson I was taught and it sounds as if you are teaching the same

Dean said...

Hello, Lizza. Just wanted to let you know: Stacy of was kind enough to publish my work on the site. Here's the permalink:

I hope you can check it out.

Kiyotoe said...

I think momma and poppa dragon cared mostly about us trying our best and giving our all, never quitting. When you do that then you can live with the results whatever they may be.

I still believe that and hopefully will be able to pass it on to any future baby dragons ;-)

Matt-Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt-Man said...

This post strikes home Lizza. Ryno's mom is somewhat demanding about getting good grades. I just want to know that he did his best whether he gets a great grade or an average grade.

And if your kids say:

"My mom, Lizza? I love her madly, but when I was growing up, she made me want to..."

There is nothing wrong with that. I would only be upset if they said, "she made me feel like I HAD to." Cheers Lizza!!

Free As Light said...

My dear friend Lizza, you might remember me as the freedom glutton - the girl from karachi who wrote about her deepest and shallowest. We started our blogging right about the same time.
Hope you are well, and life has been great. I shut off my old blog, and now with a new life, I have a new blog. I would love to hear from you. Have a great time!

Lizza said...

Kyels: Lots of parents have that attitude in common. Some can be too demanding - or not demanding enough - which leads to problems.

Nursemyra: They better... or else. Kidding, of course. Thanks, my dear. I hope I live up.

Travis: My philosophy exactly. Cheers to you too!

Citizen: Maybe something along the lines of you made them do a little too much gardening -- which they enjoyed anyway!

Dean: My God, Florante at Laura. I haven't read that since high school (when you were just a twinkle in your parents' eyes). Very apt passage.

And congratulations on being featured over at IB. You truly deserve it. Keep on writing (though I don't need to tell you that!).

Marky Thanks! And no, she does not. Thank goodness.

Sidney: Our views on this topic may clash, but I respect your beliefs. We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. :-)

Bond: That's what their dad and I try to let them know and feel. He and I don't push them to get no stinkin' medals (though we're happy for them when they do receive such awards).

Kiyotoe: Baby dragons with your wit and intellect...go have 'em already! (With the Counselor's agreement, of course. Ohh, wise and witty counseling baby dragons!)

Matt-Man: I'm glad this post touched you. That our kids do their best, that isn't an unreasonable thing to ask for. (By "our" I don't mean that we begat any together. Though it's possible we could have a cyberbaby together someday, I suppose. But I get to choose the name!)

Free as light: Of course I remember you. Welcome back! Glad to learn all is well with you and yours in Karachi. I'll go catch up on what's been happening with you in a few.

Lizza said...

Greg: Thank you for visiting and for telling me about your book. I'll tell others about it and I'll get back to you soon.

H said...

Hey Lizza, wish I could be a cool mom like you.


But I'll have to have kids for that first.


and theN I'll expect them to get golds. I just know I'm that sort of mom.


I don't think I should have kids.

Liz, hugs darling. You're doing well, is what I hear from this post. love to you.

Lizza said...

I'm having a blast being your soul sis. I think I'd love to be your daughter in spirit too.