It’s been an insane week, but there was a real bright spot in it on Wednesday morning.
I went out to get the mail and there was a letter from the school addressed to The Parent/Guardian of my son Matthew. I’ve gotten a lot of these—actually, for all three boys—and they are almost always less than good news. Usually they are interim reports, which are notices that your child is doing not well in a class.
School for Matthew has been difficult since shortly after his liver transplant at age four. Actually, the problems really began soon after he had chemotherapy when he was five, and weren’t helped any by his being hypoxemic (low on oxygen) for many years after that. Despite the supports he got in school, he really wasn’t learning well, and an outplacement—which is what I thought he really needed, if only for a few years—was not in the cards. Of course, not learning well meant he wasn’t performing well, and poor performance can really make a kid hate school, which Matthew did.
It always seemed so unfair, because Matthew was born with so many gifts, and he will never reach what would have been his potential if some mysterious something hadn’t fucked him up. But the fact that he came with so many gifts meant that even all the crap thrown at him couldn’t keep him down entirely.
Matthew is creative, with an occasionally brilliant sense of humor. Great academic achievement might have been possible before his illnesses, but his creativity, drive, and spirit have enabled him to achieve in other ways.
And apparently, that is going to be recognized. The letter that came home on Wednesday was to notify me that Matthew will receive an award at the school’s Award Night. Despite having another son whose school achievement included being nominated to the National Latin Honor Society, I wasn’t even aware of these awards, which are given to the highest achievers in, frankly, one of the highest achieving school districts in the state, if not the world (so people like to think). I do vaguely recall hearing about them last year, when Matthew complained that they unfairly recognize a select group of people, leaving the other 1900 students in the school to feel like chopped liver.
Despite Matthew’s recent improvement in school, I’m pretty sure his award won’t be in the academic category, which includes “College Book Awards” (whatever the hell those are), namely the Cornell University Book Award, Dartmouth Book Award, Harvard Book Award, Mt. Holyoke Book Award, Smith Book Award, Wellesley College Book Award, and University of Michigan Book Award. It’s most likely for his extracurricular activity, in which he won two state-level awards, one of two students at his school to do so, and the only junior in his category of competition at his school to win any state award at all.
I’ve always had faith in Matthew’s ability to overcome his obstacles, but I am still so proud and impressed that he has come so far. And it occurred to me on Wednesday as I absorbed the contents of that envelope that being Matthew’s mother is one of the best things about my life.
I wish you a bit of pleasantness, too, and thanks for reading.