When my graduating fifth-grader came home and said he’d been asked to write a speech for the graduation ceremony, needless to say I was thrilled. Because it meant somebody at that school thought my son could put sentences together and read them out loud. Good. He’ll need that in life.
But he didn’t seem too thrilled. He didn’t even see a reason to call Dad at work and tell him all about it. In fact, I had to drag the details out of him – how his teacher got him out of class, asked him to write about his fifth-grade experience, and read it during the ceremony in front of all the students and parents.
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And why? Because he said he didn’t want to look like a goody-goody.
Do people even use this term anymore? And who exactly is a goody-goody these days, because surely it’s not writers. It used to be somebody who follows the rules, makes good grades, and doesn’t drink or swear. It was Sandy, in “Grease.”
And I get kids are different today, but he needs to understand what exactly’s cool about this. It’s about being recognized for a skill, and being challenged to use it. It’s about being a leader, and being given an opportunity to inspire. I don’t know if he’s a good writer, but somebody thought he was good enough to do this, and that in itself is an honor.
I guess he hears me, and I hope he gets it. He quietly takes to my laptop and bangs out several hundred words. And we don’t talk about it again. I figure best to just leave him alone and see how he feels once it’s over. Take your hands off, Mom, all will be revealed.
And it is. Right before he gives his speech. They’re presenting an award – the Katie Gambino Award for Excellence in Writing, named after a nun turned beloved teacher, who inspired children to write, before losing her battle to cancer.
“And the award goes to … Colton Curtis.”
And suddenly he’s on stage, being handed a giant plaque, with the names of all the past winners over the years, his name already engraved and shining in the last spot.
I hear congratulations, something about maybe winning the Pulitzer Prize one day. And while I never felt prouder in my life, I could only guess what my son must be feeling.
Speech goes fine, by the way. And I giggle when they have to sing “We Go Together” from “Grease” – the final number after Sandy goes from goodie goodie to greaser in an effort to shed her image.
And in the car afterward, I just can’t wait to ask … “Still feel like a goodie goodie?”
“No, not at all,” he laughs, “I feel pretty cool.”
He doesn’t know what a Pulitzer is. But I tell him – that’s a pretty cool award to win, too.