It’s that time of year again. Parent-teacher conferences occur, and suddenly social media is flooded with pictures of beaming kids clutching honor roll awards and student-of-the-month certificates. Captions on these social media posts boast about how proud mom or dad is of their little genius for rocking whatever grade they are in, and comments pour in complementing the parents for a job well done.
And then there are the conspicuously silent social media accounts.
The ones belonging to the parents who won’t open social media for a few days after parent-teacher conferences so that their kids won’t notice and become defeated. These are the parents whose kids aren’t on the honor roll or may never be in the running for student of the month.
These are the parents whose kids struggle in school.
We have sat through dozens of IEP meetings, listening to a team of educators discuss all the ways our children are behind their peers. We quietly absorb the information about our childrens’ documented academic shortfalls. The reading difficulties. The trouble with math. The ADHD. The crippling anxiety that prevents our children from participating in class discussions or socializing properly with their peers.
Still, though, we are the parents who are so immensely proud of our children — but for a myriad of other reasons.
As parent-teacher conference season rolls around, be proud of your kids — no matter what. They are amazing, and they deserve every accolade bestowed upon them. But if what you are praising them for is their academic accomplishments, take notice of the kids who hang back.
I’m talking about the kids who are quietly but proudly showing their families projects written in wobbly handwriting and littered with misspellings. These projects may not seem all that impressive to you, but they have been created with painstaking effort. By the kid who colored until his little hand cramped to draw a picture of the dog for her birthday, just because he wants her to know how special she is. The kid who cuts his last french fry in half because he doesn’t want his brother to miss out. The kid who beams from the side of the room because he is so proud of your kid for winning the spelling bee.
This is the kid I am so proud of.
He may not produce “perfect” work, but he makes a heroic effort every day, trying his hardest — and he never gives up. My kid may never be on the honor roll, but he will persevere because he is determined, compassionate, optimistic, and simply amazing. And for that, I am more proud than I ever would be about an honor roll certificate.