What About My Son?

It’s been an eventful bunch of months. I adjusted to working outside the home, weathered motherhood, and had countless moments of self reflection. Blah blah blah, I lived. I got wrapped up in it. This is just the obligatory explanation that I feel compelled to make after not blogging for so long.

I (we) also moved across town into my childhood home. There was a lot of drama around it but it ended up with us in a pretty darn good situation. And, for the first time in a very long time, I feel equipped (or more equipped) to handle this crazy little thing called life….

Anyway, there’s my little recap. What I really want to talk about is William.

William has come a long way. William and I have come a long way. But, like life with teenagers, there will always be challenges. (And I know that William feels the same but opposite way…life with moms are challenging.)

So, the kids’ school does a lot of award ceremonies. One a quarter to be exact. Some might say that’s excessive. I know I did. But, I also respect the intention behind it of trying to keep the kids feeling enthused, motivated, and supported.
I missed the first one because of work so when the next one came around, I was ready to reluctantly attend. I emphasize the reluctance because I asked the school if my three would be getting any awards (because I was fully prepared to bail if not). I was told that they try to make sure that each student gets one.

Now that might be an example of how kids today become entitled but for my purposes, it was just confirmation that we had to attend. So Brian and I put our big kid pants on and showed up. I was so glad we did because the pride on their faces when they got the awards made it worth it.


I left feeling so proud of those three. So when the next one came around, I recognized the importance of going. The kids did, too, but, on the way, one of the two younger ones was a little less inspired (and a little more tired). They asked what the point in going was. And William, of all people, said that they do the award ceremonies to build confidence. Well, I thought that was pretty cool.

So, we went. They started with the younger kids first. Lizzie got an award for reading and her straight A’s. Antwan got one for science and something else that I wish I could remember right now.

Then it was time for William’s class. His teacher went through his list and I watched everyone get called up except for William. I sat there, stunned. Then his math teacher did his awards and made no mention of William, either.

I sat there, fuming. (And feverishly texting a friend to determine if I was overreacting or not. Ha!) Now, I am painfully aware that William’s grades…well, they suck, So, I understood that he hadn’t earned anything for his grades. But, my take was that you can’t have it both ways. If they were going to try to make sure all the students got an award, then they sure better include my kid.

As I sat there, I was flashing back on what he said about the awards building confidence. I was wondering if this was going to lead to a fall-out in the days to come as he dwelled on it. And when he came up to me after, he had a tone. It’s a tone that I believe is indicative of bad things to come. Although, to be fair, I could have just been reading it that way.

Either way, I handed him the keys so he could go to the car and then I marched my little, afraid of confrontation self to the principal’s office. (Fyi, the principal is also his math teacher.)

I mentioned to him that William was the only one who hadn’t gotten an award. I said that I understood that he didn’t earn one academically but I was concerned with the fact that everyone else got one. When I told him what William had said about the awards building confidence, that struck a chord with him.

He said that he didn’t want to damage William’s confidence and started to think out loud about the fact that he had given another student a “most improved” award and since William had also made up a lot of work recently, he had also improved. Next thing I knew, he was filling out a certificate.
Through the whole interaction, I was worried that I was a part of the problem and just being a helicopter mom. But, I was all in, anyway.
He then went to our car and presented William with the award.

He said – Your mom was talking to me and I realized that you had been working hard, etc, etc..

He gave him the award, William thanked him, he closed our car door and then he got ambushed with a teary-eyed hug from this helicopter mom. haha.

And, ever since that moment, William and I have gotten along great.
Initially, I cringed at the idea of William knowing that I basically went and complained my way into him getting an award. But, I think, inadvertently, I couldn’t have planned it better. He knows now that I have his back and I know that he hasn’t felt like I do. If the angry jabs that he has thrown my way, in the past, are to be believed. 😉 So I like to think that this meant something to him. Or maybe he’s just been nicer to me because he’s just been in a good mood, but I’ll take it, anyway.

Maybe just as importantly, I learned that I do have his back. I can’t say for sure if I would have bothered a handful of months ago, but I hope so. Sometimes, in the midst of the drama with him, it’s been easy for me to lose sight of the fact that I really love that kid.

And, it’s easy for me to lose confidence in the idea that he loves me.

But, a few days after, as they were getting out of the car, I said “I love you.” I had actually made a mental note to say it out loud, to make sure they heard it. Well, first, William made some smart response. Then he stopped, smiled, and said “You know I love you.” He was right, I did know. But I didn’t know, until that moment, how much I really needed to hear that.

So, yeah, maybe I contributed to the problem. Maybe I taught William a bad lesson. Maybe if I had backed off, he would have tried harder next quarter to earn an award on his own.


But, maybe I don’t care.

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