Two New Pencils and a Microphone

This morning our elementary school held an awards ceremony for the third grade. My  resident third grader, Sam, was very excited about this, and told Chris and me to get there early because he was “probably going to get like, one of the first awards or something.” Sam is nothing if not confident.

We showed up to the ceremony right on time and watched as all of the kids filed in and sat down on the floor in front of us. Sam, effortlessly chic in a blue and yellow football jersey and red and green shorts, quickly scanned the crowd of parents with his patented “Where the hell are they?” look, then visibly relaxed when he saw us waving at him like he was Elvis risen from the dead. (And yes, he is dead, Dad. For the last time, that wasn’t Elvis you saw buying a washing machine in the Reno Best Buy. It was just a fat guy in a cape.)

The first awards given were for Excellence in Conduct, which Sam did in fact win, and as each of the well-behaved kids stood up to receive their prize (a pencil!), the assembled parents applauded wildly. Then we all tried really hard to not look smugly at the parents whose kids spent most of the year in the principal’s office for plugging up the boys’ room sinks with toilet paper. Oh, parental superiority. Why are you so hard to control?

Next came awards for the kids who had a B average, then the awards for the kids who got A’s all year long. Like Sam. My son. The future President of the United States. (Oh, you thought it was going to be your kid? Sorry, but Sam was in the gifted program IN THE WOMB, suckas. I started campaign fundraising when he was nursing.) This time around, Sam got a nice medal to wear around his neck and…a pencil! Seriously, what’s with all of the office supply prizes? My living room looks like freaking Staples.

With no more awards to distribute, the school principal congratulated the kids, then she completely shocked the crowd by inviting any parent or relative in attendance to get up and say a few words into the microphone. Yeah. Open mic day at a grade school. I’m guessing that probably doesn’t happen in Jersey.

I wasn’t even considering going up front, but then my husband elbowed me and whispered, “Just go up and tell everyone that you have a few things to get off your chest, then belch and knock over the mic stand.” I ignored him and looked over to my left where my friend Jeannie was hissing,  “Go drop the f-bomb, Wendi!” and my other friend Nancy was snorting, “Run up and yell, ‘Hey, A-Honor Roll, must be nice to peak when you’re nine!’ Ha, ha, ha! Do it, y’all!”

Oh, my God, I thought as I leaned back in my seat. Is that what my friends and family think of me? That I’d actually do something obnoxious at a school function? Do I really have that bad of a reputation? I tossed this idea around in my head for a few minutes, but then I suddenly had something of an epiphany: perhaps as a mother, the only people in the entire world who truly know the real me, my genuine soul, are my children. My wonderful children. And I’m sure they’d never, ever think I’d do something to embarrass them in public.

Not two seconds later, Sam abruptly stood up in the front of the room and frantically tried to catch my eye. As I beamed at this beautiful child, my first born son who loves me unconditionally, he pointed to the microphone where various moms and dads were lining up to say nice things about their children. “Aw,” I said to Chris, “I think he wants me to get up there and tell everyone what’s in my heart. Isn’t that sweet?”

But then Sam stared me dead in the eye, continued to point at the microphone and sternly shook his little head while mouthing the two simple words that prove he does know me better than anyone else: “DON’T, MOMMY.”

So I didn’t.

But I still managed to break a few Excellence in Conduct pencils on my way out.

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