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It's Okay to Tell Your Kid You're Proud of Them, Just Don't be LOUD About It

It’s Okay to Tell Your Kid You’re Proud of Them, Just Don’t be LOUD About It

By Wendi Aarons

Every year at this time, our elementary school holds individual ceremonies for the third, fourth and fifth grades. The well-behaved kids are given citizenship awards, the smart kids are given academic awards and the rest of the kids sit in sober reflection and wonder where the hell their life went wrong. Or at least that’s what I imagine they do; they’re probably just busy making fart noises with their hands.

The ceremony is well attended by parents, who sit politely and applaud for each kid. Well, they do that now. Last year the principal had to tell everyone to not cheer loudly for just certain individuals after a few ex-Texas cheerleader moms screamed and catcalled like their child had won a new Jet Ski on The Price is Right instead of a Perfect Attendance award. They’d probably show up with megaphones and a confetti cannon if they could.

During the event, I can usually be counted on to take a few out of focus pictures of my thumb with my iPhone. However, some of the more rabid moms and dads hoist themselves and their professional camera equipment up onto chairs so they can capture the whole thing on video. Why they do this, I’ll never understand. I mean, I know network TV is god awful, but I highly doubt it’ll ever be so bad that you’ll look at your husband one night on the couch and say, “You know what, Harry? Let’s cue up that third grade award ceremony from 2013. My god, it was breathtaking, wasn’t it? So many pink hair bows!”

Anyway, that part of the event is all fine and good and it’s great to see the kids get their little medals and certificates. But then? Then things take a very obnoxious turn. Because that’s when the principal thanks everyone for coming, makes some closing remarks and opens up the mic. To the audience. Of parents.

Question: What gives Wendi hives?
Answer: An audience of parents on an open mic.

Lest you think I’m overreacting as usual, close your eyes, clear your mind and imagine Facebook come to life. Because now moms and dads aren’t just typing about how special their child is, they’re talking about how special their child is. Over a loudspeaker. And yep, it’s pretty much as bad as it sounds.

“Hi, I’m Colton’s mom and I just want to say how proud of Cole-Bear we are—that’s what we call him, Cole-Bear! He’s just so dedicated to getting good grades even though he’s a total soccer star who made his select team and…”

Once she was done convincing us of Cole-Bear’s awesomeness, she then segued into news about her upcoming foot surgery. Her foot surgery. And this isn’t unique. In fact, this type of thing goes on with most of the other the parents in line for the mic—for at least 30 minutes. Honestly, how I’ve never hurled my cup of coffee at the electrical outlet is beyond me.

Because here’s the thing: out of the 150 or so parents in attendance, only 20 go up and speak. And while a few of them say something kind about the teachers or the school or the entire group of kids, most of them don’t. Instead they just talk about their own kid and say how proud of them they are. And give us all details about why. (Or, even worse, subtly promote themselves or their business in the process of doing so.)

I don’t want to sound like a jerk because those parents certainly have every right to get up there and say what they want to their kid. But it’s definitely not something I’d ever do. I tell my boys that I’m proud of them and that I love them, of course, but I wait until after the ceremony when it’s just our family. Maybe I do that because that’s the way I grew up. I really don’t care if anyone else on the planet knows that Jack had trouble in Math at the beginning of the year, but now gets A’s. And, more to the point, I know that nobody else on the planet wants to know about it, either. After all, it’s a weekday morning and I’m pretty sure the parents in attendance have far better things to do than hear me brag about my kid. (Except, you of course).

We have one more ceremony to attend this week for my oldest son, Sam, and I know it’ll include the infamous open mic. There’s no way I’m going get up there and say anything—for all of the reasons mentioned above. But also because at last year’s ceremony, Sam caught my eye in the audience, pointed to the microphone and made that cut gesture across his neck.

Or at least that’s what it looks like he’s doing in the out-of-focus picture I took of my thumb.

About the Author

Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at

Wendi Aarons is an award-winning humor writer and blogger who lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two sons. You can usually find her at Wendi Aarons, The Mouthy Housewives or starting fistfights near the 70% off rack at Target.

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  • Marci

    June 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Opening up a mic to parents is absolutely nuts.  I would go out of my mind.  I have never seen that or heard of that before.

    I can barely sit through end of the year music concerts where the seniors are recognized.  This is done by a music teacher.  If they then invited parents to speak we would all be there until midnight.  Yikes.  These are graduating seniors so it’s understandable…what you are describing is nauseating.  Perhaps you are not alone and can get a petition going to put a stop to the insanity.  🙂

  • Dani in NC

    June 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I’m thankful that our schools here don’t do the open-mic thing. I’m also thankful that all my kids are teenagers, so I don’t have to go to awards ceremonies for perfect attendance any longer.

  • Sally S.

    June 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Awesome post! I cannot believe that parents actually do that!! And that the school allows it!!

  • Alison

    June 7, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Get on up there and give the longest teary oscar style speech ever.  Thank everyone who help him win, from the catering crew all the way up to the director, thank the bus driver, who drove him there every day rain or shine. Thank the teeny tiny saplings that grew up to be big trees only to have their lives cut down to make desks all for your son. 

  • RS

    June 12, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Oh my word. At my high school graduation, we did not have an open mic. Probably because there were 450 of us graduating. But even in elementary school, no open mic. Who came up with this idea? If you want to brag about your kid, do it with people who actually care in a less public forum.

  • Emmali

    June 12, 2013 at 11:44 am

    Are you not allowed to leave when open mic starts? Start a revolution! Get up and get your kid and leave! Start talking to your friends about them all getting up and leaving, tell your kid to spread the word around. Maybe it will finally dawn on them that open mic is a dumb idea, or maybe the parents just desperately want to hear themselves speak, and that’s okay, but you shouldn’t be forced to listen to it.

  • Molly

    June 12, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Dani – you said it for me!  Thank god my kids are teens although I have to listen to the ignorant parents cat-call and scream their child’s name at concerts.  3 more years…I can do this.