Friday, July 2, 2004

Report Cards

My sons are not like me at all.
Is that why God gave them to me? So that I would be forced to see the world through a different set of eyes; a dissimilar set of values?

It was report card day. And awards day.
Non-events for my children. Clint didn’t even want to go pick his up.
“Don’t you want to see how you did?” I asked.
“Nope. Doesn’t matter.”
“Wha? What doesn’t matter?”
“The report card. My marks. I don’t care.”

How can he not care? I don’t understand.

How can you not try your hardest? Do your best? How can you not hand in assignments? Not do assignments?

Where did this “oh well” attitude come from? Is it a generational thing? Are my kids growing up in a “Don’t worry, be happy. Chillaxxxx decade”?
Or am I doing something wrong?
Is this my fault?

Should I be stricter? Have higher expectations? Physically force them to study? Demand they put more effort on their schoolwork. Hire tutors. Bribe them?

Seven years ago, when he was in grade 4 and Max was finishing up grade 1, I proudly sat in our elementary school’s gymnasium with adorable Drew on my lap and both sets of grandparents as well as a husband at my side. Clint was the recipient of two coveted awards; Excellence in Work Habits as well as Excellence in Academic Effort. And Max surprised me by getting the academic award as well as the citizenship one for his class. Did I not feel blessed? Smug even? Weren’t we just the picture of perfection?

An acquaintance of mine was sitting at the back of the gym. She had 4 kids in the school, grade 7, grade 6, grade 4 and grade 1…
“Hmmm. None of her kids received any awards. How embarrassing for her. I wonder if it bothers her.”

I mean, her kids were cute and all. Nice enough, as far as that goes. But obviously not really smart. Or special in any awardable way.
Not like mine.

Clint has not won another award since that day. Nor has Max. And Drew didn’t get one this year either. My kids (gulp) aren’t exceptional students in any way. They’re just normal. Average. Cute. And nice enough, as far as that goes…

And this year, when it came time to attend the awards ceremonies at the schools, I didn’t bother going.
And am humbled to realize that my old acquaintance turned out to be a better person than me. She went to Awards Days. She cheered on the winners with a smile on her face.

She is a good woman. I am not.

Max is a solid B student. As is Drew. They managed to go the whole year with ‘not bothering’ to study or do homework, and came up with B’s all across the board. They enjoyed school. Did not stress out over assignments or tests. And happily accepted B’s.
“It’s good enough mom. Don’t worry.”

I’m an “A” student. Living in a “B” world.
It’s a more carefree place. More accepting. Less harsh. More room for mistakes. Their B philosophy extends to all areas of their lives, not just schoolwork. Their rooms? Are about 75% clean. Their teeth? Get brushed about 80% of the time. And so on.

(Clint’s philosophy is slightly different though. His overall average works out to a B as well, but how he gets there is painful. In school, if he respects the teacher and enjoys the course material, he gives it his all. “His all” means that he single-mindedly, almost obsessively pursues excellence. He is very hard to live with under those circumstances. On the other hand, if the teacher is “an idiot” and the course (say, Chem 11 or French 10) is irrelevant to his life, he does the bare minimum and fails. [Fails. Can you imagine? An “F” on a report card. Shudder. Doesn’t that follow you through life? How can you ever succeed at anything if you have an “F” on your transcript?] So, while Clint gets that blight of an F, he also gets a smattering of incredibly high A’s. When you do the math… somehow he comes out with that B average.)

Speaking from experience, it’s much easier to live with someone who does a consistent B effort in every area of their life, than with someone who chooses to give an A in some areas and decides to give an F in others.

OK. So that’s the plan. Peer pressure has me adjusting my standards downward. I’ll pursue B’s. I’ll read up, study hard, prepare diligently and carefully aim for the B in all aspects of my life.
82% of the time I’ll make a decent supper. From now on, 78% of the house will get cleaned regularly. I’ll pick the kids up from school on time 83% of the week. We’ll go to church 4 out of 5 Sundays. And library books will get returned when I feel bloody well feel like it.
I'll get a "B" in life if it's the last thing I do.

Three things that make me happy:
1. Warm chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk
2. Frozen chocolate chip cookie dough and a mug of hot chocolate
3. Either of the above on a rainy afternoon with a good book

Grouchy thing:
1. Interupted internet connections

Thot - "There's a fine line between fishing and standing on the shore like an idiot." Steven Wright

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