Monday, October 1, 2007

I have got to relax.

In spite of Mary's tongue in cheek advice, I want to talk about Jacob's progress report. The first quarter is half gone and we received a summary of Jacob's grades to date. A's in math and spelling, B's in reading and religion, C's in handwriting and written expression. My internal reaction: "What the heck? We have some work to do! Handwriting, shmandwriting, but the rest of this has got to improve." Nick's reaction: "Wooo! No D's! Great job, Jake!" Clearly, we have differing expectations.

I know very well that I have a stick up my rear about this. That was revealed last week when Jacob got a 93% on a spelling test. I remarked to Nick that we would have to work harder on spelling at home. "It's just memorization! There's no reason to not get a 100%!" As soon as that came out of my mouth, I was horrified. To be completely honest, though, it's how I feel. Anything less than perfect on something so easy as spelling is just completely unimaginable to me. I also know that it's really not a healthy attitude.

All through school, I got all A's in everything except handwriting (Jacob never really had a chance on that front, did he?). Anything less than a perfect score on anything was devastating to me. I don't want Jake to feel like that. I don't want him to cry over a B or lose sleep because he got the extra credit question wrong on a test. It took me until my early twenties and an F in calculus to get over that. Or so I thought, anyway. Clearly, I am not still over it.

What I want for my kids is for them to do their best. And I secretly want that best to be better than everyone else's best. It took every ounce of self-control that I have not to quiz the other parents on progress reports at the soccer game Saturday morning. I'm proud of myself for showing restraint. I wish I could get to the point where restraint isn't necessary. I'm never going to say "Wooo! No D's!" But I would really like to get to the point where a B isn't necessarily a badge of shame.


Jen said...

hmm, that's a tough one. I would like to think that I would be okay with A's & B's. I know I would have a hard time accepting C's though.

My brother's FW has very high expectations of herself. In fact, she got a B in one of the hardest undergraduate chemistry classes offered at her university. She was so upset at the B that she decided to against taking any other chem classes or pursuing any career goal that included chemistry. I was floored!!

Mary Witzl said...

My husband and I aren't thrilled with our kids when they bring home good report cards either. That is because the school they go to has very lax standards and we know they could do better. The eldest seldom studies, but got excellent grades. I know two mothers whose children did very well at our school; both have said that they struggled in their respective universities, unable to compete with kids from better schools.

But if I see that my kids have really tried -- and yet done poorly -- for all that I am disappointed, I am proud. This is especially the case with PE, which I was awful at.

As for calculus, I would have loved just to get into the class! I was too lost in math to get much past trigonometry, so even your F would have made me proud...

Chelsea said...

It's a hard line, isn't it? My father was much like you, anything less than 100% was essentially a failure. It impacted me so much the I fear I may swing the other way and have the "as long as you get into college" philosophy...which isn't all the healthy either!

Karen said...

I think part of the issue is that you know what Jake is capable of. Getting 100% on a spelling test isn't out of his relm. It is a fine line between encouraging him to do his best and not discouraging him because he didn't get the best grade. Good luck (because in a year or so I'm going to be looking to you for advice on this topic ;)

Christy said...

Jen - I can totally sympathize with your future sister-in-law. For the longest time, I thought "why do something if I can't be the best?" I outgrew it, thank goodness!

Mary - I wasn't proud of the F, but I was very proud of the C I got when I retook the class.

Chelsea - That's what I'm afraid of! I don't want to make my kids hate school or for school to be stressful. But Karen is right too, that I know Jake's a smart cookie. There's no reason for him to not have straight A's.

Karen - You have two years, Karen! I don't think that most schools grade Kindergartners, do they?

blackbird said...

Do they teach inventive spelling at your school? It's the death of good spelling habits...
so many of us have been in your shoes - I've been known to tell my kids to 'strive for the D.'

(talk about ashamed!)