Last September, second grader Titus told his parents, “If I go to school every day, at the end of the month, I get a free pizza!” Titus likes pizza.
September, October, November and December, Titus ate pizza. His classroom celebrated nine weeks of everyone having perfect attendance.
The flu hit. Kids in school one day stayed home the next. Titus could not avoid the germs. He got sick after school Friday. Monday morning he popped out of bed healthy and ready to chalk up another day toward pizza.
January and February, Titus ate free pizza.
In March, Titus, according to his mother, “was trying to do something with his jacket at school and he fell out of his chair. He got up and fell again. He teacher said he was seizing for five seconds. She sent him to the nurse’s room. The nurse thought it might be that he stood up too fast after hitting his head and so fell again.”
He went to the emergency room. The doctor said he had a concussion. “I don’t see any seizure activity. Stay home tomorrow and rest.”
Thinking of free pizza, Titus looked at the doctor, “I don’t want to stay home. I want to go to school.”
“Well, you can go just don’t do any sports or gym. Stay indoor for recess,” the doctor advised.
“I think he also wanted the bragging rights,” his mom said. “Everybody was telling him ‘you were passed on the floor.’”
His teacher looked at Titus with astonishment. “You came today?”
He nodded. “No sports or outside recess.”
“Okay, and you also will not work on any computers or electronic screens today,” she decided.
Titus ate pizza in March.
He almost had earned another pizza in April when he fell off his bike and broke his arm. His screams pierced the neighborhood. His mom said, “I ran, got Titus and his bike off the road and back to the house. He calmed down and looked okay when he went to bed.” He woke up crying from pain.
An x-ray showed that two bones in his arm had broken.. He left the ER with a temporary cast and took Ibuprofen for the pain.
After that one pain pill, he declined any more. He insisted he wanted to go to school. He wanted pizza and he wanted his friends to sign his cast.
“A week later he was back on his bike and on the trampoline,” his mom said. “It was his right arm so he had to learn to write left handed and how to dribble and shoot left handed.”
Titus ate pizza in April. The cast came off before school ended in May.
The last day of school Titus attended an award ceremony recognizing the academic achievements of students who improved the most or scored the highest in a subject. One student in each class received the outstanding student award for a great attitude.
Finally the principal held up the sheaf of perfect attendance awards. Titus wiggled to the front of his seat. He knew his name would be called. He had gone to school the whole year and had feasted on pizza every month. Now he, and a few others, stood on the stage while everyone watched them receive a perfect attendance award for the past year.
To get on stage took determination, a love of pizza and the daily routine of crawling out of bed, boarding the bus and showing up at school even after a concussion and broken arm. Titus earned his perfect attendance certificate and every bite of his free pizza.