“Hey, mom! We got our project marks back today”, I buzzed excitedly, shrugging off my bag and joining her at the dining table.
“That’s nice dear, she replied, barely glancing up from her phone. A moment of silence passed, and I looked at her impatiently.
“What sweetie?” she mumbled, still tapping away on her device.
“Aren’t you gonna ask me how I did?”
“Oh right”, she said as if she’d suddenly realized what I was saying. Putting her phone down, she focused her attention on me. “Sorry about that hun. Now, tell me.”
I grinned and sat up straighter. “So. You remember my mini-documentary all about unconventional beauty standards?”
“Yes darling, I remember”, my mom sang, rolling her eyes a little.
I giggled. “That’s the one. So, Mr Malcolm gave us our rubrics back today”, I leant down to fish the paper out of my backpack to show her. “And this is what I got”
I handed her the sheet and waited, feeling giddy all over. I had gotten a 92 on my documentary, and I was bubbling over with excitement to tell her. She’d given me such a hard time while I was working on it (to be fair, I did slack off… a whole lot… but whatever) and the fact that I’d done so well was my chance to validate myself.
My mom examined the paper, her eyes crinkling at the corners a little. After a minute, she spoke.”Honey, how come you didn’t record a voiceover for your documentary?”
My smile dropped at the corners and I glanced down. Of course, it was the one thing I didn’t do that she’d comment on first.
“Because I didn’t want to.”
She continued, “But you know that could be what stopped you from getting an even higher grade on this project. I know you could’ve recorded a voiceover – I didn’t hold you back. So why didn’t you?”
I took in a deep breath and exhaled shakily. “Because I don’t like the sound of my voice in recordings. Besides, the documentary was good without the voiceover”. My eyes were glued to the table while I spoke, afraid that I would start crying at any time.
My mom clicked her tongue before glancing at the rubric again. “Maybe you could go to your teacher tomorrow and ask her why -”
“Why can’t you just be happy for me?” I burst out, the tears already starting to fall. “I worked so hard on this project, and I was so nervous about it I literally couldn’t sleep last night!”
My mom looked shocked at my outburst, but I didn’t care.”I get my result back, and I couldn’t wait to tell you because I was so happy, and all you want to talk about is the one thing I didn’t do. How is that supposed to make me feel?!”
My mom struggled to find the right words. “Honey, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you, I-”
I didn’t give her the chance to finish. I grabbed my backpack and stormed up to my room, slamming the door and flopping onto my bed, where I lay there, sobbing my eyes out.
I knew I was being overly dramatic, but I was tired of it. Every time I brought back one result or the other, she always picked at the things I did wrong.
You’d think I’m a failure by the way she’d critique my work. And I hated it.
All I wanted was to feel like I had achieved something. For once.
I wanted to feel validated.