Report Card Day

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?

9 thoughts on “Report Card Day

  1. I also have a Lisa and a Bart. They both get the very same, very sincere I am so proud of you speech on report card day. Bart definitely notices that the grades come easier for Lisa, but I have always stressed that everybody has different areas of strengths and comparing is never a game you can win. It works, mostly.

  2. That is a tough one. So far only one of my kids gets grades on his report card, so I have another couple years to mull it over. I did a tour of my 7.5 y/o’s classroom the other day and his teacher is really into art, and he’s into art as well, but each piece he showed me he said, this art is terrible that I made. I made terrible art. My first inclination is to argue — no you didn’t, it’s nice art, I love the art — but he will just argue back, so instead I said I liked how he kept making art, even though he didn’t think any of it was good enough. Find the appropriate life skill and praise that. Stick-to-it-iveness, that’s what I want to see more of. Art schmart 😉

  3. Shannon

    I have a Bart and Lisa. I am very happy that school comes very easily to my Lisa and I am proud of her for many reasons but not necessarily for anything I’d consider a natural ability. My Bart on the other hand has to work very hard to get a C+ or a B- and I am very proud of the effort he puts in. He is often discouraged seeing how easily tests and projects are for Lisa. Yet he keeps trying and doing all he can to improve. That I think is worth celebrating. I tend to praise our Lisa more for trying things that are out of her comfort zone, knowing she’d really rather not.
    I’d have to say for the most part I think both of my kids are equally smart. They just learn differently and have different skill sets. I just wish report cards showed that.

  4. You don’t. BUT, as they get older it DOES change. My Bart did catch up to my two Lisa’s. Today he’s finishing up his first year of University. If you’d told me, when he was ten years old, that one day he’d be going to University I wouldn’t have believed you….

    I’m with you that it’s so hard though, I wish report cards weren’t seen as so important in our school system or that they’d show all our kids strengths, not just a few. Hugs to you in dealing with it!

  5. Awww. I have one child who gets excellent grades across the board, and one who gets a few excellent, a few good, and a few average. It’s hard to balance that because I *am* really proud of the one but I’m also really proud of the other, who works just as hard – if not harder. Elementary school, especially, is where the children who can write well and get their ideas down on paper excel. Later on, it seems, the children whose strengths are not in written word can have a better chance to excel. My opinion, anyway.

  6. dawn

    I have twin boys and a daughter who is 2 years older (all now in their 20s which is scary!) Daughter was very accademic, one boy ditto, other boy really struggled with severe dyslexia and just not as bright as the other 2. C (bright son) especially managed to achieve without even working too hard and was good at games and popular too so we couldn’t even praise him for putting in lots of effort because he didn’t!

    With hindsight I would say please, please, please praise the Lisa’s as well – it was easier with my daughter as she was in a different year but for the boys we didn’t praise C (the bright one) as much as we should and it’s left him with huge confidence issues. We realised this when he was in mid teens and tried to explain – although he understood what we had done and why it has had some lasting implications that he only just seems to have learnt to deal with.

    But as a parent, the only sure thing is that you will make mistakes, all you can do is do your best.

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