It seems super fast, but my daughter is now officially a high school freshman and Joe completed sixth grade with flying colors. Both had their end-of-year awards programs last week, and both have reasons to be proud.
Nathalie proved herself a writer this year, making her mother particularly proud. Out of more than 400 eighth-grade entries, an essay she wrote entitled “My Name” was selected to represent her school in the Georgia Young Authors competition. She also was one of 11 finalists out of more than 400 eighth-graders in a writing and public speaking competition at her school known as Impact.
Each student selected a non-profit organization early in the school year and worked with the project to spread word of the group’s mission, culminating with a speech and multi-media presentation. Nathalie’s organization was the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, an effort that works to develop healthy self-esteem among young women. She also was among a handful of students to earn an end-of-year award for Outstanding Effort in science, and she was accepted in to an Advanced Placement government and politics class next year—unusual for a freshman.
Joe didn’t want to attend his award ceremony. “I’m not going to get an award, so why should I go?”
He came home with a big smile and a bounty of recognition, including a trophy for “Most Spirit” from his cross country coach and a letter and certificate for Outstanding Academic Excellence signed by President Obama through the President’s Education Awards Program. I knew he would be recognized for his athletic participation, but the other kudos—including the president’s award and a certificate for outstanding effort, creativity and dedication to the school newspaper (proud Momma, again)—I didn’t expect.
But beyond the acknowledged accomplishments, I have to assess the school year based on other criteria—particularly for Joe.
Given Joe’s ADHD, the checklist I use to measure his success might be a little different than one I would use for Nathalie. As a sibling of ADHD, it’s not a disparity she always finds easy to accept.
I don’t celebrate the fact that Nathalie finished her school year without earning an in-school suspension; for her that is a given. But I do count that accomplishment among Joe’s successes. His inability to manage angry outbursts last school year earned him that status a couple of times.
I don’t celebrate Nathalie getting to school on time regularly, but I do congratulate Joe for arriving on time the vast majority of the time. And I also congratulate him for finding an approach to homework that works for him (getting up early to get it done in the morning after a good night’s sleep) and settling into a personal hygiene regimen that I find acceptable (even if there is still room for improvement).
Thankfully, those are not things I have to worry about with Nathalie. I would like her to spend a little less time showering and a little more time cleaning her room. I would like her to catch the bus more often. And I would like her to find more room for tolerance and support for her brother, but I know her experience with him is framed much differently than mine and it can be more difficult than I might understand.
Unexpectedly, my two very different children showed me a lot of common ground this school year. They both showed me adaptability—starting new schools in a new state and finding a niche. They both showed me academic excellence, and they both showed me they will take different paths to the same goals.
They both already know that they earned ear-to-ear grins from me and that they have my complete support in their quests to meet their goals, no matter how different their journeys might be.
Related posts: adhd and school, middle school, parenting/FAMILY, siblings, Tammy Murphy, Tammy Time