It’s report card day, rapidly becoming my least favourite day of the school year. I’ve ranted before about the comments on them – so very, very much work for the poor teachers, and in the end, almost complete gibberish, due to the strict regulations they are under and the inability to BOLD THE ADJECTIVES which are the most important part (“he OCCASIONALLY cleans up!”).
This year an exciting new trend in commenting features the phrases “learning to” and “beginning to”, as in “she is learning to manage her time wisely and hand in assignments on schedule” which sounds so positive, I think, like, my kid is learning! She is growing and getting better! But my experience with report cards has me jadedly thinking this is actually probably supposed to indicate that she is behind the curve on this particular milestone. Sigh.
But what I really wanted to complain about is the fact that I have two Lisa Simpsons and one Bart Simpson and that’s what really makes report card day so tough. Two of my kids brought home mostly A’s and universally positive comments (I THINK). One kid brought home the usual smattering of B-‘s and C+’s, and it’s always that kid who looks up at me with big brown eyes and says sadly, “Is it a good report card?”
My poor baby.
So I do my best to downplay report cards as a whole, to tell everyone they did a good job and set them aside to look at them more closely when the kids are asleep. I whisper to my two Lisas that they have done well and I am proud of them but that they shouldn’t talk about it around the house. I gently tell the Bart at bedtime that there are a few things to work on, but that they are loved just the way they are and there are lots of important things to be besides good at taking tests.
But either way I feel like I am taking sides, belittling one team or the other. It’s not a problem to celebrate the achievements of one kid when it’s something the others don’t do – say, cheering on our Brownie for earning a good badge or our Piano Player for rocking that recital. It’s a problem to praise some, but not all, when they all have the same list of marks in front of them for direct comparison purposes. How do you find the balance?