There is a story, complete with proud-parent-and-child picture, riding the internet waves. Specifically, on Facebook. (Where I seem to get all of my news, sadly.)
This mom is pleading for us to like/share/comment on her son’s pathetic tale. Apparently, at 8th grade awards night, her son received his award for great grades in 8th grade but his name was inadvertently left off the list when awarding students for great grades for their entire middle school academic career. Her son was so shaken, and so was Mom, that she is pleading for us to like/share/comment so she can give her son the recognition he deserves.
I read the plea to my recent college grad daughter and she rolled her eyes and said, “I’ll bet he’s as embarrassed as hell. I’d KILL you if you ever did that to me.”
And then, wisely, she said, “There are so many disappointments in life. So many good things that he’ll do that may not go unnoticed but WILL go unrecognized. Isn’t that the bigger lesson there?” (Ahhh, now I’M the proud mom.)
If he is so bright. So determined. So driven. He is going to go on to achieve many great things in life. Some will go unnoticed. Some will go unrecognized. But in his heart, he will know he achieved “greatness.” Those close to him will know. And isn’t that what’s important?
We have become a society that applauds and awards the smallest of achievements. We give recognition when, sometimes, it shouldn’t be “due.” And we are doing this with such regularity that we want our children to be recognized for every little thing. And when they aren’t recognized? For the big and the small? We are livid.
A few times, during my son’s baseball career, I’ve cringed at the end of the game awards ceremonies. Every kid is guaranteed a medal, at least once in the short 6 game season, for “greatness.” Well, I hate to put this out there, but my kid ain’t great. He’s mediocre. He loves the game. He has a blast. He makes great strides for him. But most kids would have hit that ball. Caught that pop fly. Or made it all the way to 2nd base on an overthrow to first. So when the coach would sometimes have to search for something to praise my kid about I wanted to say, “It’s okay to give it to the boy who hit the home run with 2 RBI’s or the outfielder who made the over-the-fence out.”
But I don’t. And my kid is bursting while he wears his medal after the game. And my cruel heart softens, as I see him bursting with pride. And that’s okay, too.
Because sometimes, he’s going to get awards for things that are disgustingly easy for someone else. And he’s going to watch, someday, as someone gets the award that maybe he should have received. There’s a lesson there, too.
There are so many lessons of unfairness for each of us to learn. And sometimes, we have to learn them in 8th grade so that when it happens in 12th grade and in college and umpteen times in our adult careers we don’t want to curl up and die because no one noticed our greatness.
We aren’t always going to have mommies, cheering on the sidelines, making sure every single one of our achievements is noticed. And we shouldn’t.
The true value of an achievement is what we learn from it.
What we take from it.
And how we apply it to further greatness.