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Honorably Mentioned


My last son is attending a snooty school. The parents make sure of it.

Which explains why I haven’t once set foot on the campus. I don’t have any Manolo Blahniks.

At our school, every kid’s a winner.

We don’t have losers.

I was told by the school that my kid was receiving an award from his PE class during an assembly that would last two hours. I could not imagine what would take so long, but being a dutiful mommy, I put my rigorous schedule on hold to attend.

I had not one doubt that my son was entitled to singular recognition. Our kids get awards all the time. Why, a year doesn’t go by without my having to attend numerous award ceremonies wherein my child is called forward and patted on the head for outstanding citizenship, record breaking attendance, athletic prowess, or academic achievements.

Usually, all of them.

Any one of my children would walk away, head bowed beneath the weight of medals, hands full of certificates signed by the office staff, and occasionally the President of the United State of America.

It’s not bragging if it’s true.

But boy is it obnoxious.

I’m getting one of those bumper stickers that reads, “My Zombie Student Ate Your Honor Student’s Brain….Now Who’s Smart?”

I have one of each. So I know.

Arriving at the school a half hour early was not my best plan. Everyone else had arrived earlier. Cars were double parked and parked on top of fire hydrants and in front of red curbs or blue walkways.

Obviously these awards weren’t for hereditary successes.

I parked three counties over and ran gasping into the back of the auditorium. Standing room only. Behind lots of balloon clusters loudly proclaiming “Congratulations!” even though they were clearly meant for a wedding.

I found a sliver of wall to lean against and looked around for my son.

Once we made eye contact, our silent body conversation went on for a while. His raised eyebrows meant, “I see a parent here. This means I’ve won something. Wonder which one?”

My eyes rolled heavenward meant, “Look, kid, this is torture just for you. You’d better appreciate it. Do you see a vacant chair anywhere? This award better be good!”

I got excited thirty minutes into the program when I noticed the police had arrived. Finally, the police department could make their ticket quota in one fell swoop. Perhaps these crazed parents were getting their cars towed at this very minute!

Oh the justice of it all.

Until I realized the truth: they had kids receiving awards here today. There were two cop motorcycles illegally squeezed into a ramp in front of the office outside.

Shoot me now.

An hour and a half into it, my face shouted at my kid across the auditorium, “They are handing out awards for breathing in and out all year…and you didn’t get one! When will they call your name already?”

Why do I keep showing up for these things?

Once the PE teachers arrived on stage, I started to relax. I stood upright and rolled my shoulders, restoring circulation and tentatively feeling for my feet. My shoes were cute, but not a good choice to run and then stand for two hours in.

The awards were handed out.

Had he done the most sit-ups and push-ups? Had he run the fastest mile? Perhaps displayed excellent Sportsmanship or Leadership among his peers?

Thirty students were called up for recognition, my son among them.

It was for “Outstanding 6th Period Physical Education”.

That’s it.

Written up on a Del Taco coupon.

My son had won a free kid’s meal.

For breathing in and out every day in 6th period PE.

I am so proud.

Published inParenting


  1. pamela schlottman

    That was very funny with a lot of truth in it. Kids should know how to lose gracefully as well a win. They should know that it takes a lot of effort to win. The only thing really important is to do the very best they can and then in our (the parents) eyes we should be proud.

  2. Karen Witmer

    Your kids always deserved those awards! You did a good job and they were among my best students. As a teacher, I dreaded those overdone assemblies too, mostly for the kids who did NOT get an award, ever, and sat on the floor every month knowing they wouldn’t get one. When I went to school, a half century ago, we did our best because that was what was expected of us. I can’t remember a single award assembly. I hope you and your children are all well. Please send them my regards!

  3. Barb Abel

    Well written Jolie, many memories of my own children, nieces,nephews and grandchildren! 🙂 Hardly ever got to sit in a seat, but found standing against the wall gave a better view anyway! 🙂

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