This post originally appeared on the now defunct Chicago Moms Blog.
In Hollywood, the award season kicks off with the Golden Globes in January, but every mom knows that kid awards are in May. In this two-week period alone, I will attend at least five ceremonies for my twins, who are high school juniors. (Please note: the following list does not constitute bragging, as I'm trying to make a point here.) My daughter was inducted into the National Honor Society, will be recognized as an outstanding student by three of her teachers (Anatomy, Applied Science and English), and will receive a few other honors, as well. Her twin brother received a "most improved" award in history.
I'm proud of all my children, but these awards for these two children are particularly meaningful because their futures were so precarious when they were born 16 weeks prematurely. At that time, we were hoping they would breathe on their own, so scholastic achievements weren't even on our radar. As I have proudly touted their most recent accomplishments to friends, grandparents and other relatives, it's been hard not to notice the imbalance of accolades. I hear myself saying "she did this" and "she got that" and … she, she, she. Oh, yeah, and he got an award, too — most improved.
A friend recently asked how my son felt about all this attention being bestowed upon his sister. Frankly, it's hard to say, because this is a boy who doesn't register accomplishments (his or anyone else's). This phenomenon is actually part of his set of learning disabilities and reflects an inability to connect planning and effort to achievement, as well as difficulty reading social cues.
This is the second time my son has been recognized as "most improved". The first was after an extraordinarily difficult transition to high school. When you ask him how he feels about these awards, he says "I'm happy," and then wryly notes that it's not hard to be most improved when you start at the bottom — an interesting observation from someone who is supposedly "socially delayed". When you tell him you are proud of him, he says "Thank you." When you ask how he feels about his sister's awards, he says "I'm happy for her."
As his history teacher presented my son with his award, she made special note of his kindness, his upbeat attitude and his positive contribution to the atmosphere of the class. I wish I could give her an award for recognizing these as accomplishments.
"Most improved" is a stunning accomplishment, especially when you improve upon most improved. My goal over the next year is to follow in my son's footsteps to become eligible for the Most Improved Mom Award — a mom who devotes as much of her braggadocio to her children's behavior and character as she does to the more coveted awards and public recognitions. I will strive to instill in my son the same sense of pride I feel for the person he is. It's clear I have a long way to go, but with a little more effort and self awareness, I may have a fighting chance.
This is an original Chicago Moms Blog Post. When Susan isn't boasting about her brilliant, beautiful, talented children, she can be found blogging at Two Kinds of People and The Animal Store Blog.