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  • Writer's pictureCarolyn Balch

Honors and Awards

Updated: May 19, 2018

Okay, so I’m not the most observant person in the world. This will be helpful to know as you read on. 

As a child I competed in national music competitions; very small nation, btw, but still. When I was 9, I won the piano competition in my age range. After I received the trophy, I innocently asked, if I could keep it. “No,” was the reply, “You must return it to the competition next year.” 

America’s Cup this was not. But it was shiny and beautiful and would look great on my piano. I asked again, how I might be able to keep it. “If you win the same award three years in a row, then you may keep it,” came the curt reply.

Okay, I thought, that would be tough, but I would work hard. Thankfully I was at the beginning of my age bracket (9–11 years old) so I had a shot. Even better was that Saskia and Jacqueline were a few years older and competed in the 12–14 year-old category. I didn’t have a hope of beating either of them.

Over the next two years I was able to hang onto my title and when I rejoiced that I could now keep the trophy instead of surrendering it, I was greeted with blank and grudging stares. Looking back from my adult vantage point, I’m sure they were only aggravated with wondering how to replace it.

Fast-forward many years. I’m engaged and visiting my fiancé’s home for the first time. (Refer to the first sentence at this point). On the quick house tour, we casually passed his brother’s room. The walls were lined from floor to ceiling with trophies. My jaw hit the floor. Was he some kind of phenom? How had I never heard of him? (Again I refer you to the sentence you came in on.) My husband just shrugged, “Yeah, he likes sports.”

I don’t think I got a clear explanation that day. I’m rather reserved and didn’t want to come across as too odd after all. They, of course, could not understand my incredulity.

I have now raised two children each with their own slew of trophies that sit on their shelves, most of which were earned for just showing up. So which tradition would you choose? Mine? Theirs? If you’re asking me, I would say, “Neither.” I actually think there’s a third, better way.

But that’s a post for another day…

Chime in. I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

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