A different kind of award night

For once in my life, I have something in common with Justin Bieber. On his Instagram post (yep, I'm a follower!) after the Billboard Music Awards, he said this:  “I don't know about these award shows ... I don't feel good when I'm there nor after." His reference was to the format of recognition for performance.

I kinda get it. 

My oldest son and I attended the Senior Awards Night last night and sat through two hours of accolades for some majorly high - achieving kids. This is Silicon Valley after all. Their collective accomplishments are amazing. Stellar GPAs! Hundreds of community service hours! Three sport athletes!  Tutors of the underprivileged! Teachers heaped praise about students' sterling character, luminous spirits, unwavering work ethic and impact on them personally. They deserve every ounce of congratulations, my own kid included.


My mind naturally drifted to my second son who will likely never attend such an awards night. His GPA just doesn't cut it. And he's more interested in spending his Saturdays shooting hoops at the community park than serving food to the homeless. And studying? Not really his gig. What IS amazing, however, is his GPA without studying. And funny?  OMG yes. Best dog walker?  By far. Ketchup on Cheetos?  Yep, an individual. But not awards-night material. As parents, our challenge is to help navigate a path for this type of kiddo, too,  for whom the traditional four-year college may not be the next best step. Which is FINE ... it's just a less clear-cut path. And one that takes more looking, seeking, trying on.  And one I find parents (myself included) explaining and defending. Perhaps because it's not a celebrated path in the traditional, end-of-year sense.

Perhaps there should be a second awards night for those show-up-every-day-average students whose skill set falls into categories not usually recognized at year end.  And I have some ideas:

• Most flavorful snacks brought to Film Studies.

• Impressive wood shop project that might sell on Ebay. 

• Funniest banter in 6th-hour Chemistry.

• Impressive 3-point shot during lunch hour basketball game.

• Most clever hiding spots for food and homework in bedroom.

You know... just for starters. Because these accomplishments represent some serious creativity and inventiveness, too.

I'd clear my calendar for this second awards night. Hell, I might even be co-chair and bring extra cookies.

The Heart of the Matter: Let's expand our definition of what's award-worthy in the life of our kids. 


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