A few weeks ago, before spring break, I got an email from Mary’s teacher.
Whenever Mary’s teacher writes us emails she does this thing where the subject line of the email is just the kid’s name. So every now and then I get an email, subject “Mary” and every single time I panic. My blood pressure starts to rise and before I can even click the email I’m sorting out how I can move my schedule around to go to school to pick her up.
Her teacher has literally never send me an upsetting email, not once. But that’s where my head goes — Mary got hurt on the playground — Mary is upset and needs you to come to the school — Mary’s behavior has been disruptive — I think Mary might be a good fit for reformatory school.
My heart was racing when I read the email, which said that Mary was going to receive an award, and her teacher was inviting us to the awards ceremony.
WHEW! Glad I got all worked up over nothing! I immediately switch my worry into sentimentality. There’s no reason to waste perfectly good adrenaline!
At the end of every nine weeks our kids’ school recognizes two students from each class for demonstrating one of the school’s character traits — compassion, perseverance, commitment to quality, collaboration, and integrity.
Mary was being recognized for showing compassion in the classroom. The moment I read the email I could feel a lump in my throat.
The way this awards ceremony works is that the recipients are kept confidential. The teachers invite parents, but the kids don’t know they’ve gotten an award until the day of the ceremony when their name is called in front of the rest of the school.
The day of the awards assembly was also the last day of school before spring break, and so I told Mary that she could wear her fanciest, favorite dress to celebrate spring break. She chose a surprisingly understated outfit and I, for the millionth time since I found out about the award, had to remind myself to not ruin the surprise.
I wanted to tell her so, so badly just because I was so, so proud of her and could not wait to celebrate with her.
On the morning of the assembly, six members of the Krieger family gathered to cheer for Mary. We tried to keep a low profile because we knew that if she saw us she’d be tipped off, but our two toddlers, two parents, and two grandparents are not a low-profile group.
Mary later told me that when she saw us in the audience, she assumed we were there because David was getting an award. (And, perhaps exhibiting their birth-order roles, David also said that when he saw us he assumed he was getting the award.)
Her teacher read her name and Mary jumped up and ran across the room to join the other recipients.
Guess whether or not I cried. (I always cry.)