Report cards came home this week. One was quite good and two were not at all. I was less than pleased by the less than stellar grades earned by kids who are more than capable of wowing me. There was a certain amount of drama associated with the revealing of the grades and the application of consequences that are intended more as a removal of distraction than as outright punishment. After the epic freak out over the unfairness of life at House of Lime calm was eventually restored. The lead player in the tragedy approached me calmly and we had a rational discussion about expectations, next steps, and how she feels as if the efforts that have been made since the previous marking period (when the first dismal set of marks came home) are consistently unrecognized. Then she said the words that hit me hard, "I don't feel like what I do is ever good enough for you and it hurts."
I mulled it over, considered some of the other points she made and realized that though she is prone to exageration and though the grades were really not acceptable at all, she did have some reason to be feeling the way she did. The truth of her words (as they related in a sense broader than a couple of report cards...we covered a lot more ground), more than the words themselves are what pierced me. It reminded me of all the times I brought home straight As and heard my father growl, "That will suffice." I thought about getting nearly a 1300 on my SATs and being told I should have done better. I remembered graduating magna cum laude from college and hearing there was no reason why someone who had chosen the easy way (a degree in special education) shouldn't be graduating summa cum laude. I remembered swearing I would never make my kids feel that way when they had given their best effort. I remembered being a mother of three and my father starting in on one of my kids about some perceived shortcoming before I told him I didn't like that he had criticized me my entire life and I sure as hell was not going to let him do that to my kids.
So, while I am not happy about truly bad grades from bright and capable kids, after a little more examination I can see where some effort was made and I can see where there were things that should have been positively noted. I don't think people need to be patted on the head and have their egos pumped up even when they have done poorly but neither should they be denied praise when it is due. So for this week I'm going to count that Calypso was able to tell me calmly and rationally how she felt about several areas so we can both make the necessary adjustments for better results in the future. It's not something I felt able to do at her age so I'll also count it a small victory that she feels secure enough to do.