At this time of year, I hear the pride in parents voices as they celebrate the wins their children receive recognition for. I have felt the pride of such moments, when your child receives an award in front of their peers and other parents. It is an awesome feeling.
Over the last few years, my daughter’s achievements still fill me with pride, even if they are less publicly recognized. I hope she realizes that it doesn’t take cups and certificates to make me proud.
The awards and recognitions our children receive over their school careers, be they academic, sport or other awards of leadership, culture, etc. are important in building self esteem and confidence. In a competitive society, we ask our children to always strive to be the best and it is satisfying when hard work pays off.
Although I remember my own awards at school as important achievements in my life, as I grow older, they aren’t what I hope to be remembered for. There were so many less tangible achievements that mark my life that were no less important in shaping who I am today.
Childhood is fleeting. It is a time when lifelong values are developed. So, as much as I will celebrate my children’s public wins, I will also celebrate the moments that show me those values in action. The values that show me they are making their own path in life, not simply following one I have laid out for them.
I suppose it is odd to feel such pride, especially when you realize that, as a parent, you are only a small part of their achievement. Everything your children achieve is from their own hard work and commitment. As parents, if we try and do it for them, or we drive them constantly, at some point, it will all fall apart. You can’t write your children’s exams for them or play the match for them.
As a parent, my pride is therefore somewhat misplaced. The cheerleading squad does get recognition though when the team they are cheering on wins. So, I will be the one on the sidelines of my children’s lives, cheering them when they win and cheering even harder when they don’t. I can feel pride that I am the best and most consistent supporter my kids will ever have.
Achievement is after all, fleeting. Name the most recent Noble Peace Prize winner or the man who broke the 100m world record or the most recent winner of the Best Actress Oscar. Maybe you can remember without googling it. And by tomorrow, someone else may have taken your place at the top.
But if I ask you to remember the school teacher that meant the most to you, a mentor who influenced your life or a friend who was with you through a tough time, it is easy to remember. Awards may be important to us personally but it not what you will be remembered for – a name on an honours board is not a legacy, only a milestone on your journey.
It may be that your achievement inspires others. It is not a visible medal but it is far more long lasting. The recognition that is most valuable is also invisible. It is not printed on a certificate or engraved on a trophy. It is written in someone’s heart.