I used to know if I'd done well. Chubby handed, clutching my pencil, I would stare wide-eyed at my reception teacher, hanging on her every word, eager to please.
If I did well, I was rewarded with a sticker; stickers then being the award system for our learning youth.
Fast-forward to my secondary years and while the stickers had faded, the yearning for awards and recognition had not.
Certificates became the pat-on-the-head for a job well done, delivered to a school hall packed full of young people who knew, deep down, that they weren't going to get one.
We made up for this lack of recognition by pretending. The mirror and brush were our friends, fantasising, as we would, by receiving a hairbrush statue for maybe Best Gum-Chewing or Most Improved Head Stand.
We were in another land and it suited our teenage selves just fine.
Sunday saw the 85th Oscars ceremony and I'm fascinated. Awards, you see, are like stickers for grown-ups. And stickers mean you've done well.
On Sunday, there was an array of gowns, gliding as they do along the red carpet, paparazzi shouting, fans sobbing, teeth gleaming.
Like groomed hair or a fine suit, the Oscars, like the BAFTAs before them, scream success.
They are the tequila slammers of recognition, one after another, and I can only but stare. Because recognition, people knowing that you've done good, is – when you lie in bed awake at night, unable to sleep – what we are really looking for.
It's why babies cry, why kids at school hope their teachers notice them, why employees arrive early in the morning and leave late at night – and why actors dress up to the nines and hit the red carpet.
It's this wanting to be acknowledged, this primitive yearning to be seen, to be heard, even for just a moment, which makes us do stuff, which drives us to keep going even when, along the way, we feel utterly shattered or forgotten or passed over.
So on Sunday, I was bleary-eyed, watching the Oscars, marvelling at the swooshy gowns and the insane, rambling acceptance speeches.
My hairbrush was my gold statue, awarded to me for Best Coffee Cake Eater, sitting with my kids' sticker book open, handing them out, one for each of you. Oh yes, Mr Oscar, we've all done so well.
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