The One School Award My Child Might Never Earn

As we near the end of the school year, there are many traditions during this time. One of our children is graduating high school, and it’s felt like a whole year of ceremonies and “lasts.” Another child will move on to middle school, so that transition comes with its own acknowledgments. We’re also getting ready for class parties and then the awards on the final day of school.

Most of the awards are for grades earned, but there is one award that always bothers me. It’s the award for perfect attendance. At first it seems like such an innocent award given to children who didn’t miss a single day of school. Our local newspaper even featured a story of a student who received perfect attendance for all 12 years of school. Not one day missed! In our family, though, there are children who will never get this award no matter how much they enjoy school.

We have missed days for illnesses like many others do. We have missed days for doctors’ appointments, mostly with specialists who only accept patients at the most inconvenient times. We have missed days for hospitalizations, surgeries, ER visits and the after effects of all those things. Our child would love to be at school learning but needs to have procedures done that improve her quality of life. An award doesn’t seem so important anymore.

I didn’t write this to upset those who are glad their child received a perfect attendance award. I didn’t write it because we are upset or sad for not receiving it. I wrote it to acknowledge the many children who should earn awards for bravery and courage and toughness because of what they’ve been through. There are no certificates waiting for them as we usher in summer, but I hope they know their families are proud of them regardless of attendance. If we asked their teachers, I’m sure they’re proud, too.

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