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The Awards in Life That Count

by Kim Ades May 6, 2016


My daughter, Ferne (pronounced Fernie) is 16 years old and in grade 11. She is what you would call “academically inclined.” She works hard and earns every one of her 90%+ marks. Ever since she started high school, she has won some kind of academic achievement award each semester.

In her first semester, she won the Art award. In the second, it was the Gym award. Next she won the Philosophy award, followed by the History award.

And each time she won an award, the school sent a letter home four days before the awards ceremony to notify us of her achievement and to invite us to attend an award ceremony. Strangely enough, each semester, on the exact day of the event, I have not been able to attend due to a commitment for a speaking engagement without enough notice to reschedule or cancel.

This semester was different. She came home with a Biology award and as she handed me the letter from the school, she announced proudly that this time I would be in town and able to attend. I rescheduled all my calls and cleared my calendar – this was an award I had absolutely no intention of missing!

That morning, my husband and I drove Ferne to school, and as we entered the auditorium, we were handed a program with the list of all award winners in all grades and faculties. It was listed in alphabetical order.

We searched for Biology – there was no such faculty. We found Science, but her name was not there. In fact, her name was nowhere to be found on the entire program. We figured it was an oversight but given that her biology teacher was the one calling up the award recipients, we assumed that a correction would be made on stage.

No such thing happened. In fact, when the Science awards were handed out, there was no mention of her name whatsoever. I felt horrible on her behalf. I could feel my throat start to swell and noticed myself choking back a great deal of emotion.

Ferne, on the other hand was calm and held herself together beautifully. Although she was not too pleased with the unfolding of events, particularly because I was finally there to celebrate with her, she handled herself with incredible grace.

Even when I approached her teacher and the principal of the school to voice my disappointment, Ferne expressed her understanding of the mistake and accepted their apology without a single complaint.

As soon as we had a chance to speak privately, I told Ferne that, in my opinion, she actually won two awards: one for Biology, and one for handling the situation with grace.

I told her that the second award was priceless because it was not something that she studied or prepared for. It was not something that anyone taught her in class or that she had practiced in her homework assignments. It was a test that reflected who she was. I was proud beyond measure, and I told her so.

After my little speech was over, she looked at me with a big smile and said, “thanks Mom, I really appreciate that.”

In a way, I missed seeing her receive her award yet again – but I did not miss celebrating the amazing qualities and characteristics that make her the beautiful person that I am proud to call my daughter.

When things don’t go according to plan, how do you react? Do you take it hard? Do you feel the pain? Do you let the blow affect you?

Do you wish you could bounce back from adversity quicker and with greater ease?

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