Wednesday, January 21, 2015
The Friendship Medal
I hate Field Day at the kids' school because it's long, boring, outdoors (read: hot or cold, depending where you live, and I've had BOTH), and most of all, I have to endure witnessing my children's inability to win first place, second place or even third place. Who cares? They do! We are not a family of athletes and that's OK but for a child who is competitive, and I have three of those, Field Day is a nightmare. I blame my husband's genes because I couldn't care less about competing, yet, guess who has to suffer through THREE days a year of torture, agony and pain? Yeah, that would be me. After it's all over, the kids are crushed and I want to quit my day job.
I must say Rebecca was the easiest one to handle and Victor, well, he is Victor so he gets over anything really fast. Now, Frankie, he is a totally different story. Historically, his developmental delays don't make it easy for him to participate in sports. He has low muscle tone and balance issues and although he works hard at overcoming them, frustration gets the best of him most of the time. Yet, we don't give up and every year we work at it. Unfortunately, his school ties field day with a "Medal Ceremony" that other schools don't have - you would think this is the Junior Olympics! It's such a big event and the kids are so into winning that no matter what they say about the medals not mattering, they do matter and they matter a lot. I get the whole purpose of inspiring future gold medalists but com'on, really? this is elementary school and not all kids are athletes! Field Day for Frankie starts out all fun and games but then the torture begins as the ceremony time approaches. In their defense, they do give the kids with special needs an honorary medal for trying their best and that made Frankie happy enough the first year. The second year he was mad and he called it a "pity medal" because he said that he had not earned it. This year I told him I would sign him out before the medal ceremony and he said no and I was terrified - what would he think of his "pity medal" this year? To add insult to injury, there was NO medal! I am not sure if the budget came short but instead of a medal, the kids were awarded a ribbon this year. Hey, it was a lovely ribbon but not a medal - Frankie was beyond insulted, upset, hurt, crushed and all of the above. I knew he had tried his best; he participated with all his heart and was faster and better at every single competition than he had ever been before. Needless to say I gave him the whole speech of having achieved a personal best, that this was a competition against himself and not others and blah, blah, blah - at the end of the day, he didn't get a medal and that's all that mattered to him. He cried and cried and I braised for an entire week of self-pity fest.
As we walked out of school, a boy from his class came up to us with his mom. The boy had gotten a silver medal and he took it off his neck and hung it around Frankie's neck as he asked him to please accept it, calling it a "friendship medal." I froze. If you know Frankie, you know it's a 50-50 with him - you really never know what he will do in an unexpected situation like this one. I was ready to apologize to the child's mom and make a run for it in case Frankie gave the medal back with some nasty remark. I couldn't believe it when he hugged the kid back and thanked him for his gesture. Wait, what? He squeezed the medal against his chest and called the classmate a "true friend" - His face was glowing and so was the other child's. I enjoyed the moment. One kind gesture from a child made a difference in another child's life. I was grateful for the child who gave his friend a friendship token but I was most grateful that MY child was able to accept it and appreciate it.
Later, as we walked to the car, I noticed that Frankie was silently crying. I asked him, why the tears this time? He answered, "mom, have you ever heard of 'tears of joy'?" Indeed, I have, Frankie, indeed, I have.