The Intuitive was one of two children to advance from his school's science fair, in the 4th grade, to the regional county science fair. We spent one day this week among a display of at least 1,000 science projects. The Intuitive had to stand alone in a sea of cardboard displays with only fellow participants for company as the science fair judges made their way to each display and had the students present their project and answer questions. No teachers or parents allowed.
We sat in bleachers with hundreds, maybe thousands of other parents waiting until his grade and science category were officially dismissed for the day. We saw him making his way to us in a crowd of other dressed-up fourth graders and joined him halfway down the aisle.
"How did it go?"
"OK, I guess. I probably won't win anything. The judges only spoke to me once."
"Well, you never know. At least you did your best. Did you stand up when they approached you?"
"Did you answer all of their questions?"
"Were you friendly?"
I had to pester him. It is my motherly duty, after all.
The next day we attended the awards ceremony, not knowing what to expect. When the announcers got to The Intuitive's category he was thrilled to hear that he qualified for an "Excellent" award, which seemed to be somewhere between the Outstanding category and Superior, with Superior being the highest. They give out many of these 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards because the sheer volume of participants makes it difficult to have just one 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner, but not everyone gets them, so The Intuitive was happy to get another nod for his project.
He went to the ceremony expecting a mere participation ribbon and came home with a medal. He was positively radiant with happiness, especially because he was utterly taken by surprise when he had simply won at his school's science fair to begin with.
I was happy for him in the way that parents are happy when they see their kids feel affirmed and valued and content with themselves after working hard on something.