Today, I attended my son’s elementary school graduation ceremony. Yep, there really are such things.
As the various certificates for excellence and achievement were awarded, I couldn’t help but think of those left behind. After all, aren’t they the ones that need encouragement the most? And what about their achievements? Surely, not everything can be measured with grades and test scores.
Take my son. Sure, he always makes decent grades. But that isn’t where his achievement lies; this year, he made tremendous, nearly miraculous steps in awareness. Last year, half the time he never even knew what was going on around him. Now, he’s completely aware, in school full-time, able to participate and even have friends.
There is no award for that.
What about for the girl who sat next to him in school, patiently helping him and encouraging him when he got frustrated or lost track of what was going on? I know her name only because the teachers mentioned it in passing.
Where is her award?
As I saw the same people walking up to receive award after award, it really made me think. I was one of those people. I got my awards, smiled, felt proud, high-fived my friends, and moved on.
Never once did I think about the small acts of kindness or personal achievement that don’t get formally recognized.
But what happened to all of those certificates? Is ‘successful in school’ emblazoned on my forehead? Or ‘makes good grades?’ No, they’re all gone or buried in a box somewhere.
I saw a movie once, where the person in it claimed he wanted no fame. Just having God know his name was enough.
Kindness, goodness, and personal achievement are their own rewards. I know, hokey. But it’s true. I’ll tolerate these award ceremonies – today was the first of many – but deep down, I’ll know every child there deserves recognition.
Especially the ones who don’t get it.