Leader of the PACK

A few days ago, we got a postcard from Gracie’s school, inviting us to an award ceremony. It said, “Your student will be receiving an award.” The next day, Gracie’s kindergarten teacher emailed to let me know she nominated Gracie for a PACK Award, essentially a citizenship award for the school.

Tonight was the night of the award ceremony. It was also the night of a pep rally for the run I’m participating in on Sunday. It was also Jackson’s first day back at school after being ravaged by the stomach flu. Chad and I worked out the logistics last night—he would pick up Jackson and bring him home to do some of the massive makeup homework, and I would get Gracie and take her to the pep rally halfway across town.

The pep rally was fun, and I didn’t want to leave. The charity partner for which I’m running is a group that provides legal services to people with disabilities and the elderly, and they are good people. It was great to chat with them. I’m proud to be running for them, even if I’m more overweight and out of shape than I’ve ever been for this run. Sooner than I wished, we tore ourselves away and made the slow trek across town to Gracie’s school.

Traffic was miserable; each street seemed busier than the last. Although my phone said the drive would take 28 minutes, it took us around 60 minutes to get home. The awards ceremony started at 5:30, but we didn’t even get home until after that. Chad quickly changed Gracie while I got ready and we headed out the door, just as I got a text from Gracie’s helper. We rushed to the school and into the lobby. Gracie’s helper met us and told us they were just doing the kindergarten awards. She ushered us to a side door so that Gracie would not have to climb stairs to the stage, but it was locked. We hurried back to the main doors just as Gracie’s teacher was on stage. We literally walked in as Gracie’s name was called, and went straight to the stage to claim her award.

Gracie didn’t realize what was going on until after we got back to our seats, which turned out to be a good thing. Once she discovered that she had gotten an award, she was sullen and withdrawn. She refused to smile and obviously was upset. Once again, she had been singled out. It didn’t matter if it was a good thing—Gracie doesn’t like the special attention.

The other kids who received awards were glowing, especially the older kids. Several of the middle schoolers who help in Gracie’s class received PACK Awards, and they all seemed very proud of themselves. Maybe when Gracie’s in 7th or 8th Grade she’ll appreciate this sort of thing more. Maybe by then she’ll realize that she didn’t get the special award for her differences—or at least, not for the “bad” ones. She got this award because she’s an awesome kid.

Even if she doesn’t understand, we do. We’re so proud of our Amazing Gracie.

Gracie-PACK_Award

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