Eye on the Prize

Clump #216:  Clear out box of awards; decide what to keep and why. Day twelve of 30-day challenge.


This was a gut-wrencher.  The one I couldn’t face yesterday.  The box, below, was collecting dust in the basement until our younger daughter unearthed it during her recent basement-cleaning quest.  The awards belong to our older daughter.  I used to joke that if she liked earning ribbons so much, I would offer her a ribbon for making her bed every day … but somehow that didn’t work.

Does she need to keep them?  And if yes, why?  Some of them are easily dispensed with.  The equivalent of participation medals.  Others she worked really hard for.  Obviously she doesn’t want them in her current residence, or even in her childhood room.  As luck would have it, The Daily Beast today contained a thorough article on the subject, “My Loser Kid Should Get a Trophy,” by Brandy Zadrozny.

As an adult, this daughter is now learning the dangers of deriving one’s self worth from outside affirmation.  We all do it to some extent or another.  I wish I could give her a medal for coming to terms with that important life lesson.  (Ha!)


So, okay, after a long consultation and photo documentation of the awards for posterity, these were the two worth keeping.  A ribbon from an elementary school environmental contest when she was determined to solve (single-handedly) the global warming crisis, and an important academic medal.  I was an abysmal student, myself.  Maybe I need something to touch in order to prove to myself that a child of mine was able to defy the odds of my genetic contribution.


When I was looking back for some other photos to illustrate this post (reaching for the brass ring, above), I scanned through pictures from a recent trip to Boston and Cambridge, MA, where there was a crowd waiting to take photos with John Harvard in the Harvard Yard; a line to touch his left shoe for good luck.  I googled the tradition and found out the likeness is not really John Harvard, rather a Harvard student (descended from an early president), since no pictures of J.H. existed when the statue was being made.


Another misconception is the myth that it’s a student tradition to touch his foot for good luck.  I was horrified to learn from an article in The Harvard Crimson, The Truth About John Harvard,” that the actual student tradition involves peeing on him.  (I truly apologize for the second mention of pee this week.)   From the article:

“Harvard may be an elite institution open only to a lucky few, yet it seems to exacerbate, rather than mollify, concerns about status. The product of this anxiety is frequent displays of contempt for the institution. We pee (figuratively) on things all the time: we skip classes, we are contemptuous of the entire education system, and we constantly bemoan the inadequacy of the social life.”


I’m just going to go now and wash my hands a few hundred more times.


  1. I’ve been away and now am back, enjoying all the wisdom contained in Clump a Day! It’s hard to imagine that your contribution to your daughter’s smarts is minor. Keep on sharing, Clumpster.


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