Prepping for Praise

I was given a little heads up from one of my boys teachers that I should probably make an appearance at the end of the year assembly.  I love that she knows me well enough to get that I can’t be at every single one and warns me in advance when I should be.  (Teachers: take note.  We love this from you!)

The award came as a bit of a surprise to me.  I mean, certainly there are other kids that could be honoured in this way.  How on earth did they choose my little stinker?  But I’m thrilled that they did and couldn’t be more pleased for him and can’t wait to see the look on his face when they call him up tomorrow morning.

Thing is, I started to wonder how he would act upon accepting his award.  I’m his mom so I think I know.  He’ll get quiet and a little shy and on the inside all of his guts and veins and his very heart will be Bursting!  (capital B intended)  But he won’t show it exactly, I don’t think.  He’ll smile and glance up and then back to the ground.  At least I think he will.

That is, until I thought back to the Academy Awards this year and remembered that I was slightly appalled by Quvenzhane Wallis’ (youngest academy award nominee ever) statements and actions regarding being nominated for such a prestigious award.  When asked if she thought she would win she simply said, “Yes,” without making any mention of the fabulous talent that she was up against.  Part of me thought, okay – go kiddo!  But then I went back to sorta repulsed when they were announcing the nominees.  You know the drill.  As they say each nominees name they show them up on the screen.  They show a smiling and demure Jessica Chastain and a charming Jennifer Lawrence but when the camera goes to this young girl she’s all smug and fist pumps and acting like she’s all that!

I’m sure she’s a brilliant actress.  I’m sure she should be pleased with her work.  I’m just not sure that arrogant is what she really wanted to come across as.

All of that to say, my thoughts after these Oscar moments were, “Did her mom not coach her on etiquette?”  Maybe she did and maybe she didn’t and I realize I’m sounding horribly judgemental but that’s not my point.  So what is my point?  I’m getting there…

My boy is growing up in a narcissistic culture.  Every moment of his life has been documented and he’s been asked to pose for a gazillion photos.  We’ve encouraged him and praised him for jobs well done and we’ve even called him a cutie patootie now and again, because he is.  I dare you to argue.

But more than all of these things I hope that we’ve taught him humility.  That we’ve taught him about pride and arrogance.  That we’ve shown him that the only way he has been able to accomplish anything in his little life is because God has blessed him with ability, or graced him with health or shown mercy on him in a situation.  We’ve spoken often, when report cards come home or track ribbons get worn, that any glory that is given us needs to be transferred immediately to the one who is worthy of glory.  I assure you that is not us.

So we’ve been teaching them through the years to say quick prayers of thanks.  When someone says, “Wow, you can run really fast!” Immediately we turn the compliment into praise for the giver of all good gifts by saying something like, thank you Jesus for giving me legs or thank you that I’m healthy and I can run.  Or when they come home with an amazing score on their math test and I say how pleased I am we also thank Jesus for the minds that he’s given us and for helping us to recall all of the things that we studied.  It simply turns situations that can become all about us into all about Him!

We did a little prep work last night just to make sure.  He knew that he would be acknowledged in today’s assembly (see you guys?  A bazillion assemblies!) for making the academic honour roll and so I asked what he would do when they called his name.  You guys!  The little turkey stood up from the dinner table, held his arms out by his sides and made upwards motions with them in a way that would entice a crown to scream louder!  He then carried on by putting on his smuggest face, nodding his head in an “oh yeah!” kind of way and then cupped a hand around his ear and leaned into the cheering crowd!  Think I’m done?  He finished it off with a flex and a kiss to each bicep!

Yeah.  The kids all sorts of humble all right.

After I pulled myself up off the floor where I fell simply from laughing to complete hysterics, I dabbed the tears from my eyes, regained my composure and said, “Seriously?”

“No,”  he answered.  “I’ll walk up quietly with a little smile and I’ll shake my teachers hand and I’ll be sort of embarrassed that everyone’s looking at me so I’ll say a quick prayer and ask Jesus to make me not trip when I’m walking.  But that was kind of fun!”

So we practiced a bit.  I got to play the part of principal and we made sure he could walk without tripping and we talked about an appropriate and respectful attitude and about transferring any glory we might feel to He who is all glorious.  We’ll see how he does tomorrow!

Have you ever prepped your child for receiving praise?  I’d love to hear how you do it!

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