He and I did talk about his report card and what he thought he would get. He said he is anticipating mostly B’s, with maybe a few A-‘s mixed in, and hopefully not any C’s. He will be very upset, he says, if he gets a C. ”Me too,” I told him, “because that will ruin all chances of you getting into a good college.” He looked up at me when I said this and broke into a huge smile. He knows I’m kidding. I really don’t care that much about grades on a 6th grade report card. He is trying his best in class, he is participating, he is getting all of his work done and turned in on time, and most importantly he is learning. That’s what matters in my mind. Not that he got every question right on a test, but that he is learning something from the ones he got wrong. He is learning from bad decisions, or learning from experiences with friends, or learning from the way he uses his time and energy. I want him to be a better “person” not a better student. I am trying to see the long road ahead and focus on the bigger picture of his life.
What I want his report card to reflect is that he is responsible, he is respectful, he is a good friend and a good person, that he is working to his full potential as an 11 year old, and that he is aware that there are other people in the world but him. That is for me, as his Mom, the measure of success. To raise a good man, and a good person.
If I am being totally honest with myself, I probably won’t even look at my daughter’s report card at all. I learned years before that it just bummed me out to read it, and didn’t give me an accurate picture of her. I don’t want to see where she falls on the national or regional scales of reading or math because it is not really her. She is not the girl sitting in the desk next to her and can’t be compared to her. The girl next to her doesn’t have a physical disability that restricts her writing and small motor skills, the girl next to her does not do five therapy sessions a week fighting against her own body, the girl next to her does not use 400% of her oxygen just to walk down the hall and into class. She is not that girl. She is just herself, and she is doing fine just being that.
She is growing and getting physically stronger, but she is also learning. She is doing better in reading, better in math, loving her science, and organizing her thoughts better to write an essay. I see her growth, and I see her learning, and she is doing fine. A report card will never be able to tell me these things. I know them because I know her. Maybe her results from a test on a national scale are not as high as the next kid, but as far as I am concerned her scores are exceptional, because there is growth and progress.
Too much emphasis is put on grades and scores and outcomes in our kid’s lives, and the pressure is often debilitating to them. I can’t let myself be part of that and pile on where it is not necessary. I don’t want to add stress over grades into their already stressed little lives.
I will look at my son’s report card. But I know I will be proud of him no matter what those grades and scores are. As long as he tries and is happy, I am good with all the rest.