My 10-year-old daughter won state-wide recognition for her short film. The awards ceremony, held at Roger Ludlowe Middle School, started with the younger kids receiving awards, then progressed to the older students.

Julia's award was handed out during the first half. After Julia sat down, I whispered to my wife that we should leave because it was a school night. My wife said "No -- leaving before it is over would be rude." I sulked. It seemed that after each kid got their award they would leave. When the last girl who was a senior at Trumbull High School got her award, the only people left to clap were her parents and us. We clapped real loud.

Afterward my wife said, "If your kid was a senior and was getting an award, you would want everyone to stay and clap." Hell no! I would want them to get on the road. Connecticut is not a big state but some of them had a long drive

I don't understand where my wife's desire to be the last person at an event comes from. She didn't get it from her father. Once her father and I left at halftime of a Patriots game, with the score tied. She also didn't get it from her mother. My mother-in-law was with us the night of the awards ceremony and was also begging to leave.

My mother never liked award ceremonies, or crowds of people, or even the concept of people. She could like a person but I don't think she likes people. People are more than your family and a few friends.

When we were young, she was forced to go to sport banquets populated with people. These were usually held at the high school and the term "banquet" was a bit over done. It was always potluck; since our last name was "L" we just made a dish in the crockpot. Some times they assigned L a dessert. We ignored them and made a main dish in the crockpot. We might have been assigned something else with a note the school sent home, but my brothers and I lost most of the papers intended for our parents. So we just made a main dish in the crockpot.

Everyone in the family had a job once we got to these banquets. One of us would place the crockpot on the counter and plug it in. Another child had the job of securing the closest table to the back door. My mother didn't really want to talk to people. Since most of the other families actually wanted to be near the festivities, there was always a gap of a few empty tables between the people and us at the back door. If people wanted to talk to mom they had to walk through No Man's Land. We would sometimes push some tables together to form more of a barricade.

The second the last kid got whatever award they were receiving the whole family was gone. We were a large noisy family and yet if you were the last child, you turned around at the podium and like ghosts they had vanished. No Lawlor ever sat down in their seats after they got an award. You picked up your award on the way to the car.

Occasionally people would get through the maze, arrive at our table, and ask us why we had to leave early. My mother instructed us not to lie. So we would mumble something about airports and flights, and people on flights, maybe even snakes on a plane. We indicated, without saying, we all had to get to a vague airport to pick a fictional someone up, or not. Never lying.

This is the environment I grew up in. We always left early to beat the traffic even when there was no traffic.

For the sake of our marriage I proposed a compromise to my wife. If either of our daughters wins again I will approach the family from Trumbull, apologize ahead of time, mumble something about airports, then leave.

Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his lovely bride and two daughters. His day job is at M Communications in Stamford. He can be reached at