Friday, February 08, 2008

Da Count-A for Effort

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.

33 comments:

furiousBall said...

that's totally a healthy way to view that, good job mom. high five.

Logophile said...

Good for Calypso and good for you.
The calm and rational approach, wow.
I wonder if my kids will ever learn that?
:p

lecram said...

I think the fact that your kids can express themselves and that you do listen is a count all by itself. :)

lime said...

furiousball, thanks, i needed that

logo, well, if you recall we had to have the epic freakout first, but yes, we got there eventually...

lime said...

lecram, i try, i really do.

Jeni said...

Your post has memories reverberating in my head right now as I can hear my Mom telling me how I never did anything right. "You never do" x, y or z -pick the item there and slap it in and that was her mantra. And my response was usually "Never say NEVER!" But she couldn't grasp my point there with that statement either. And, there are many times, I know, when I have (still do) respond in direct imitation of what I heard all the time as a kid, on my three when they were in school. I and my kids as well all could have done much, much better, that I know but so far, it is really only my youngest one who will readily admit that yes, she could have, should have tried harder. That was however, really an excellent post and a great reminder to me to utilize a lot more patience now with my daughter's 16-year-old stepdaughter.

jillie said...

Wow...can you be my mom in my next lifetime? My mom never showed ANY emotion one way or another. I don't think she really cared as long as I passed.

Kudos to you and your daughter for another milestone!!

;o)

barman said...

That is a nice little victory with lots of possabilities to come. I know myself I learned, if nothing I do is good enough, why do anything at all. Not a healthy attitude but that is what never recognizing the accomplishments tends to head.

You are an awesome Mom, probably not perfect but who is. Still I love the respect you give and expect from you kids. It really shows from how you interact with them.

Can I stop brown nosing now? Actually I really ment that, it just sounds like I was a brown noser in a different life.

Casdok said...

Great attitude!!

ttfootball said...

Good stuff

Seamus said...

Good for both of you to come to some understanding.

Happy Friday!

Cooper said...

That's totally huge that you and Calypso were able to connect. I've blogged enough about the whole 'not being good enough' feeling so you know that hits me where I live.
Excellent, excellent!

Charles said...

Life in the Lime-light. Yes, its good she can speak. Yes, its good you listened. Yes, its good there will be adjustments on your part. Yes, it will be good when grades are brought up. Count them, and count the one that they won't feel like you did, but will feel that they have some control over some aspect of their lives. And count that you're a good Mom, and not everybody gets one of those.

RennyBA said...

Your such a great Mom - to support your children and be there for them when they need it, is the most important!

Wishing you a great end to your week :-)

Breazy said...

I am glad to hear that something good came out of an uncomfortable situation. We done the report card thing back the first week of January and I requested weekly reports from all of their teachers. Now that I am no longer working outside of our home the grades have been climbing up.

It does feel good when your children come to you and share their feelings with you that you couldn't share with your parents at that age. To me it kind of shows that Mr. B and I are doing something right somewhere.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Theresa said...

Good for both of you. At least now you know how Calypso feels, and as long as she realizes that you do appreciate the things she does well, maybe she'll make the effort to do better in her weaker areas. In any case she sounds like a well-adjusted kid, and you must have had something to do with that.

BBC said...

When I was young and living with my grandparents I was pretty much a grade A student. Then I moved back with family and my schooling went downhill at that point. I dropped out in the 11th grade.

Whatever, got a GED in the Navy and took some collage courses later. And have pretty much self educated myself through life.

I had good trades and developed many skills and did okay, it all got me through life, I don't feel badly about dropping out of school.

Life is our classroom anyway, everyday is a new lesson.

Bunny said...

You are a wonderful and thoughtful mother. Your kids are lucky to have you!

G-Man said...

Michelle...
Indeed you are a wonderful Mom!
I know you always want your kids to be the best that they can be. And you and I BOTH know they can do better...
But I guess it's what THEY think that should matter also...
BTW...In College?
I graduated Cum Back Next Year...
xoxox

Queenie said...

Lime you are so refreshing, what a wonderful world it would be with more mums like you in it.

gab said...

Which reminds me I haven't seen my two grandsons's report cards and I dont belive their mom has either brb!

TorAa said...

Dear Lime, what you here write about is imperative. My fluent English is too bad to respond the way I would like to.
You know, I'm a father of 4. What I did from Day 1, communicate. Why?
To be honest vica verca.Talk to gether.
I do rember my second Son, in age Age of 22:
- Papa, is life as simple as Work, Eat and Fuck?

What would you answer?

I said: You are right, but you can bring more flavour into your life, that's up to you.

Have a wonderful Weekend

Moosekahl said...

Man, that sounds like a page out of my childhood. In fact, we were just discussing it at work yesterday. I was the kid just like you, did really well but was always held to the step higher. I'm glad the Limelet felt comfortable enough to say something to you though, I never did say anything to them.

Tell Isaac I gave him an "award". Hope you have a great weekend!

S said...

My snobby child got 6 A's and one B. But this comes after hours of stressing, worrying, fretting, sobbing, pming Aunti Logo about maths, yelling at me, etc....that B was in math BTW. That seems to be the tough thing for her.

I am glad you saw the bright side of that situation.

david mcmahon said...

Dear Limelets

(Whispering) don't show this comment to Mum, but some years ago, an inky schoolboy received a report that said, daminingly: ``Clearly a case of an under-achiever''.

He's gone on to be an editor in two countries, a Walkley Award finalist, shortlisted for two National New awards, written a bestselling novel and has his photographs published in three countries.

So work hard, focus on what you realy want, remember who pays the school fees - and show respect always.

See ya

David

david mcmahon said...

er, um, sorry, that should have been ``National News awards'' and``really''.

Maybe that report was accurate after all!!

The Zombieslayer said...

I don't have the right answer for this one. Junior gets bad grades. I've tried being more strict. I've tried the rewards. Nothing really helps.

So, I talked to a kid who just graduated high school with straight As. He just said to lead by example. I'm trying...

Good luck with that. I don't know what else to say, because what I'm doing is obviously not working. I'm probably the wrong person to give you advice. Junior has the IQ, he's just lazy. So I feel your pain. I know how frustrating it could be.

Brian said...

The key is that you are talking to her about it in a rational way and that she feels comfortable communicating with you. It is very difficult to motivate someone else. For parents I think the key is providing an environment where kids can be successful, keeping the lines of communication open, and focusing on the real issues that keep kids from achieving their potential.

Its not easy, is it?

Hypersonic said...

"Memories, like the corners of my mind..." I gave up, I could never be good enough so I just did the things I liked and excelled in those. After I was about 13 I couldn't give a flying...well, you know...what my parents thought.

Good for you Lime.

SignGurl said...

Wow, this post hit home for me. I, too, received a less than stellar report card this weekend and from the child it was least expected from.

Reading what you said about never being good enough rings true for how I treat both of my girls with their grades. I need to really look at their efforts and be proud no matter what the outcome.

Hope you had a great weekend despite the weather.

Flash said...

Wow...My mom freaked at my grades as a kid, even though I did tried. Your way was much more calm.

I think they respond better to "Okay, lets see how we can make this better" then "NO TV NO GAMES YOUR PUNISHED!"

the mother of this lot said...

Well done to both of you!

airplanejayne said...

The maddest I ever got was the quarter that Erynn flunked P.E:

"Erynn! How did this happen!?!?!? You've got to TRY REALLY HARD to flunk P.E. -"

"I know, Mom. I know."

"You know!?!?!? You mean you really were trying to flunk!?!?!?!?"