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At the end-of-year assembly for parents, everyone deserves a 2021 prize.

Welcome, parents of 2021, to our end-of-year assembly. 

I hope you got the Zoom code okay, and that you appreciate, on a call of this size, it’s better if we all just stay on mute. Yes, Simon, that includes you. 

I’m waiting. 

Thank you. 

Well, look, it’s been a year. We would say unprecedented, but 2020 pretty much precedented it for us, so instead let’s call it... challenging. 

Watch: The things you never say in 2021. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

Before you raise it, Louise, we know that there are people for whom it was more challenging than others. Care-givers in different cities within our own country had very different experiences, and we shall try not to fight about that. 

We also acknowledge that there are many other parts of the world where the toll has been greater, access to health care and vaccines and government support more tenuous. We respect and acknowledge that.

But still, parents, I think we can all agree that things have not been ideal. 

Parts of 2021 have, let’s face it, been a bin fire. 

So today, at the final parent assembly for the year, we are recognising, in the form of an exceptional achievement award, the remarkable contribution that parents have made in 2021. 

And we’re breaking from tradition. Because this year, everyone gets a prize. 

Stop groaning, Simon. You might be on mute, but we can lip-read the word "snowflake" from here, sir, it doesn’t take a genius. 

Spoken like a man whose child always gets a prize. Anyway. 

In 2021 every parent does get a prize because, regardless of circumstances, this year, you all tried your bloody hardest in less than perfect conditions. And that deserves notice, to hang on your wall, or on the fridge next to your prescription for anxiety meds, or to accidentally throw into the recycling along with that drawing your kid made of Nana that made Nana cry. Because of the nose. 

And this is what the certificate says. 

Congratulations, parents of Australia. For surviving 2021.

Listen to This Glorious Mess, a twice-weekly look at parenting as it truly is: confusing, exhausting, inspiring, funny, and full of surprises. Post continues below.

This extraordinary participation award recognises that:

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- This year, many of you continued to do your own paid jobs while the demands of your unpaid job doubled, tripled and quadrupled.

- This year, many of you had to do that work from the less-than-ideal conditions of the "home office" - kitchen table, unmade bed, cupboard under the stairs, crumb-strewn car - while simultaneously realising that teachers are trained professionals who deserve to get paid more than hedge-fund managers. 

- This year many of you who ARE teachers had to pivot (again) to home-learning, communicate with 100 stressed-out parents who can’t keep a password in their heads and think that Johnny had too much work/not enough work/got that thing right that you said he got wrong/was just going to give up and go to the park, okay? While also teaching your own child, who is, likely, not respecting your teacherly authority. 

- This year many of you had to leave your home to go to work to care for sick people or to clean hospitals or conduct tests or deliver food to the isolating or to staff essential businesses or for any number of reasons that meant you could not work from your home - and felt the constant anxiety of bringing a live threat back to your family. 

- This year, many of you had to deal with the anxiety and deteriorating mental health of your young people, cut off from their support networks, friends and family, watching the world spin into panic around them.

- This year, you had to offer that support while swallowing your own fear and not offering any answers. Daily. 

- This year, many of you had to host Zoom birthday parties. Our thoughts are especially with you.

- This year, many of you have had to understand how to use Parent Portals and virtual classrooms. You’ve had to work out how to "hand in" work to an invisible teacher, how to memorise the passwords to 14 different educational applications. And how to tell, while on an important work call, whether your kid was on Mathletics or Minecraft at 50 paces. 

- This year, for many of you, "me time" and "self care" was reduced to crying in your car.

- This year, many of you completed your paid work in the hours after children went to bed, reducing your time for a) leisure b) life admin c) home hygiene or d) personal grooming to its absolute base level. Your eyebrows have not recovered.

- This year, many of you lived in constant fear of being "pinged" by your childcare centre or daycare, and suffering the most terrifying text message of all... the one sending you into isolation in confined quarters with a pre-schooler. For you, my friends, a Star Of Bravery will never be enough.

- This year, many of you did all of the above while being separated from your people your village, your regular support network - paid or unpaid - who usually step in to allow you to do what it is you do. 

So for all these reasons, and so many more, Parents of 2021, please collect your 2021 extraordinary participation award. They will be delivered by Elves On The F-ing Shelves, along with chocolate and your morning coffee order.

Congratulations. You all did a very hard thing. 

Not a snowflake in sight, Simon.

Feature Image: Mamamia.

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