His teacher handed me the note at our conference last week, saying it was a surprise for Rye.
Well, 7-year-old, nothing-gets-past-him Rye was with me, with us, and when our little family got to the car, he wanted to open the envelope.
He did, and I read.
“Dear parents, your child will be honored at a special assembly next Thursday, Nov. 1. Please join us to celebrate your child’s accomplishment. Please do NOT tell your child …”
Well, having that at the top of the note might have been helpful.
At any rate, we were excited our son was receiving an award, no matter what it was for, which still remained a mystery. I marked our calendar.
Today was Thursday.
Today I was crunched for time, overwhelmed with getting both kids fed, dressed, groomed and to school on time, as well as my morning full-time (paying) job work done before being back at Rye’s school by 9:45 a.m. for the awards assembly. I managed to semi-groom myself, too (I spent 12 minutes – that included a shower. Not even kidding).
The rock star was waiting on the street outside his art gallery and I slowed the car to pick him up.
We walked into the elementary school gym late by five minutes. Kids’ names were being called off and they stood from their position on the floor to be honored. I had no idea what they were being recognized for.
Rye turned around to wave at us. We smiled and waved back, bemused at the goings-on more than anything else.
His name was called. He stood up. He sat back down.
A few minutes later, the principal, who was doing the name calling, said something about having another shot next quarter at perfect attendance if your name hadn’t been called this time.
Oh, perfect attendance, I thought. Well, at least he was recognized for something! Anne Lamott says 80 percent of life is just showing up…
I thought the assembly might be over, but the school principal switched to a different award.
Excellence in P.E.
After a few other students were honored, Rye’s name was called! This time, he got to walk to the front of the gym and be honored with the 10 or so other students who received the Excellence in P.E. award.
Wow, I thought. Cool. I was proud. There’s something about seeing your baby up on stage with an award in his hand.
Rye sat down and the principal moved on to awards in other categories: Music, Computers, Library.
I glanced at the clock, figuring the assembly had to be over then, happy our son had been honored twice(!).
But it wasn’t over.
They saved the best for last.
Every quarter, each teacher gets to pick ONE student from her classroom to receive the Super Citizen Award. This is the student who embodies the ideals of the school; they try hard, they work hard, they listen, they show respect, they’re a good friend, a model student.
The principal talked about the attributes of each student using pronouns before announcing the winner by name.
I watched one mom and her two younger children clap and wave and react how any mom would when her child wins this sort of award. And I smiled. I was happy for that family.
A small handful of other students were honored.
The principal announced the winner in Rye’s class last. This student “is a wonderful example of positive thinking and actions,” the principal said. “He is kind, helpful and always has a nice word for a friend. He has quickly become a positive member of our classroom and school.”
That sounds like my kid, I thought. I kept listening.
This student’s “commitment to follow Shelledy expectations shows he is an honest person,” the principal said. “He is a model for other students to follow. He always completes his work. He listens during directions so he knows what to do, and then gets right to work on a task. He always tries his hardest and his work reflects his dedication to learning.”
Is Rye dedicated to learning? I thought. I hope so.
“This student is new to our school but has quickly become a bobcat. He is proud when he gets a PAWS and enjoys our school. Congratulations, Rye Stickney.”
I turned to the rock star, mumbled something unintelligible and then quickly looked back toward the front of the gym, where my first baby was walking to the front of the room, where he was getting an award called “Super Citizen.”
For a few minutes, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to turn the water works off.
A dad I’d met at the class Halloween party the day before came up to congratulate us. He said, “Wow, this is a big deal. Some kids go their whole time at Shelledy without ever getting this award. You should be really proud.”
I was. I am. So proud.
So can’t-stop-smiling proud.