It’s so hard to be “cool” when your child receives an award–when someone outside your circle of family and friends notices how hard he’s working and how well he’s doing. And it’s even harder to maintain your composure when your six-year-old child tells you why he thinks he won it.
On Wednesday, Oscar received the “Good Citizenship” award at school. It is given out on Wednesdays to a student in the Lower School, which encompasses Grades 1-5. According to Oscar, his teacher said he was selected for getting good grades and being a very hard worker. Though Don and I were not there to see him receive it (because the recipient is “top secret”), we heard that when he was called up, there was a round of applause and accompanying “woot-woot’s” from his classmates. And if that weren’t worthy of parental pride itself, what came next was a moment I’ll never forget.
When we got home, Oscar and I looked at his award. I told him I wanted to get a frame for it, and we talked about how proud everyone was of him and his accomplishments. Unprompted, he looked at me and asked, “Do you know how I learned to be a hard worker and to try for good grades?” I said, as I could feel a moment about to unfold, “Tell me.” And he said, eyes locked with mine, “From you and Dad. You show me what it means to work hard and to do your best.”
Show him . . . That’s it. You can tell children to work hard and get good grades, but the biggest lessons they learn are from what they observe their parents doing. Every time Don or I got up–exhausted or sick, and got dressed and went to work, Oscar was watching. Every time we worked at something until it was right or the best it could be, Oscar was taking notes. Every time we put our own pain aside (whether it’s from major shoulder surgery or a run-of-the-mill headache) and tended to our family, Oscar paid attention.
As a parent, if there is anything that inspires you to be the best you can be, it’s that . . . knowing your child is watching. I have come to believe that my children have made me better–and now I think, thanks to Oscar, I’m beginning to understand why.