I sat there all alone … surrounded by couples, aunts, uncles, grandparents, care-givers, siblings. I knew only a few by sight. They were all nationalities and colors, many women bearing colors tattooed on their arms and necks, many dressed so nicely and smiling brightly as they gazed around at each other. The names were called out as each representative of respective teaching elements came and took the podium to share their pride at the end of yet another successful learning year.
That morning, my daughter asked me again, “Will you please come to the awards ceremony?” I replied with the truth, “You won’t be getting any awards.” “How do you know?” I let her know that I would have received a notice to come to get awards. She insisted that I come anyway.
As each name was called out, I noticed people who recognized me waiting to hear my daughter called out. They checked in on me here and there. I felt my face squinch up as, each time, someone else was elected. I tried not to make eye contact and shifted and adjusted, drank my coffee, glanced at my phone.
As things concluded, the room became lighter. I turned it over and chose to focus on the cuteness of those sweet little third-graders, their bright smiles, the words of encouragement and accolades that were given to both these happy children and their persevering parents.
My daughter found my eyes and waived me over as the room converged on the center, to the stars of the show. We went to each other and I pulled her close. “I love you and I am proud of you. You have been growing so much this year, you are so much more responsible. It’s been a hard year, but next year will be better. We will work harder and do better, and it will be better.” Her face lit up from within, helping to erase the disappointments in my heart and hers.