Thursday, March 22, 2012

Report Cards

The elementary school report cards came home this week. Remember those? Even for brown-nosers like me, there was intense anxiety on report card day. I couldn’t wait to get home to decipher all those secret codes hidden within the official envelope. Those neat little numbers and letters were all lined up in a row, gathered together to portend whether my destiny would be an Ivy League education or a certificate degree from that vocational school down the street. They were part of the PERMANENT RECORD.

I don’t know why I worried. My grades were fairly predictable: Excellent in language and social skills. Passable in math and science. Pleasure to have in class. Blah blah. But in elementary school, I don’t think I fully grasped the complicated system employed by teachers to soften the inevitable blows to parental egos.

Now that I’m a parent myself, I realize that it’s the comment section that gives it all away. If you’re looking closely enough, the teachers’ comments can be your Rosetta Stone. This section is the key to your child’s entire future. Don’t expect this information to come up at the parent teacher conferences. The comments section is the only clue you get, so pay attention. Here are some typical red flags:


Michael is able to solve complex problems.
Michael can now choose between the “A” and “B” lunch options in record time.

Carly exercises self control in the classroom.

I’ve never caught her at it, but I know she’s just saving it for the playground.

John has shown great improvement in his spatial reasoning skills.

John finally figured out that you can’t put a square peg into a round hole.

Allie shows great effort in math.

She may never find the right answer, but man, is she trying hard.

David is making progress with his social skills.

It’s been ten days since I’ve had to ice a black eye after recess.

Angela shows creative use of language.

Your kid swears like a truck driver.

If you see any of these comments on your child’s report card, you’ve got a few options. You can:

  1. Hire a math tutor, a language specialist, a behavioral therapist and a musicologist to come to your house. They will whip your child into shape after her long day at finishing school.
  2. Home school your child until he or she is old enough to join the armed forces.
  3. There’s always beauty school.

If all else fails, you can move to a third-world country and start planting the seeds now for your child’s future career with Avon.

But why do all of us – parents, children, and I suspect, even teachers – get so worked up about evaluations? The truth is, we all need a little pat on the back now and again. We need to be reminded that we’re on the right track – academically, socially, and ethically. We need a promise from others, however vague or guarded, that what we’re doing day in and day out will matter someday to someone. We need to hear that we’re valuable to others, and we need help staying the course. I need to believe that my kids will be happier, healthier, more productive members of society because I dumped my career, my corporate ladder-climbing skills, and any hope of future income in favor of daily mountains of dishes, laundry and groceries.

Oops. Did I write that out loud? Okay, as long as we’re making this about me (hey, its my blog)…

In the past couple of weeks I’ve received several pats on the back from unexpected sources, and for these I am sincerely humbled and grateful. These little acts of kindness are vital to those of us who spend most of our days in isolation in front of a stove, a washing machine and/or a computer screen. So to those supporters out there, and you know who you are, I thank you from the bottom of my laundry heap of a life.

As for the kids and their future – they’ll all turn out fine as long as you remember the code. Pay attention to those report cards. Listen to what your teachers are saying, literally or figuratively. Celebrate achievements, work on those growth areas, hug your kids daily, and we’ll all get through this together.

1 comment:

  1. Well said! Especially the part about dumping our careers and watching the mountains of laundry pile up! (Did I say that out loud?)
    Thanks for reminding me I'm not alone!


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