This was the question my daughter asked me on report card day. She was so proud to have gotten her report card and couldn’t wait to show it to me.
I glanced down at the stack of papers. I am reading “P” and “M” on so many lines. There are color graphs and grids. I flip the papers back and forth trying to figure out what everything means. “P” is progressing, “M” is meets expectations, “L” means limited progress. Good to know… good… to… know. Now, to go back through each page and decipher it all…ugh…
I see a lot of “P’s.” Not very many “M’s” though…Hmm… Realization hits me: she is behind. She’s behind in a LOT of areas.
I am sad that she is behind others in her grade level. This breaks my mama heart. I mean, don’t we all want our kids to succeed at the highest level possible? I want her to be able to conquer the world!
Well, it broke my heart for a second—and I mean only one second. That’s when the biggest smile in the world looked up at me with her gorgeous brown eyes and said with excitement:
“Did I do good, Mama?!”
I quickly responded.
“Yes, baby. You did good. So, so good!”
She skipped away with such pride.
“Man, I love that little bundle of joy,” I thought to myself.
In that split second I realized that she was far exceeding expectations in life. She was conquering the world. She might not be on grade level but there are numerous reasons that could be; none of which anyone can change now, and none of which I would want to change. But more than not being on grade level, her character outshines everyone around her. Her teachers comments are always about her “constant smile and positivity,” how “even when faced with a major injury she kept smiling and enjoying school,” how “she never lets anyone bring her down” and how “she is always full of joy.” Who was I to take away her pride and her joy because she isn’t meeting a standardized test? What good would it have done either of us for me to say “Not really. You are behind in a lot of places.”? None. It wouldn’t have helped one bit. But you know what it would have done? It would have taken away her pride. It would have taken away her smile. It wouldn’t have helped her grade.
So many children in today’s society have seen and been through things that effect them forever. Biological makeup, neglect, abuse, trauma, substance abuse exposure, environment, and so much more contribute to how they learn and grow. There are the children who try their hardest but will never reach grade level and then there are children who can easily obtain the grade desired but maybe they aren’t reaching it because of a reason unrelated to academics. Let’s take a deeper look at their entire being, not just their grade. Many children, especially foster and adopted children, face anxiety and depression, and some also experienced past trauma and neglect that has effected brain growth and development. Each individual piece drastically effects one’s ability to learn and test, but coupled with numerous pieces can lead to academic struggles. As a society we need to stop focusing on the grade and get back to the person.We should test them on loving their neighbor, being a great helper, and extending grace. Do we extend grace like our kids do? I know I fall short more than I meet expectations.
I will always love my children and their character way more than I care about their academic letter grades. Children are all different and we all parent differently. It doesn’t make us good or bad, just perfect for each other.
So I said it once and I’ll continue to say it:
“Yes, baby. You did good. So, so good.”
I encourage you to say the same.