Who invented report cards, anyway??
My youngest came bouncing home with her first report card using a traditional grading scale (A-F, instead of Os and Ss). She has always been a conscientious student, eager to attend school, follow the rules and help other students who are struggling. She is bright, always reading and quick to learn.
She and I were both surprised to see two “C”s on her report card. Admittedly, I’ve been distracted with her brother this quarter after our traumatic beginning to the year. She requested to change to a new class that opened after the school year began, and her dad and I supported her in her request. As a sibling of someone with autism, she has unique stressors including a volatile, irritable sibling and she often has to exercise patience beyond her years.
We let the new teacher know about our family circumstances, and I offered to volunteer in the classroom. We eat lunch with her at school about once a week, and we know she is making friends and assumed her academics were fine.
A “C” is passing. A “C” is average. A “C” is not an academically respectable grade. There goes Honor Roll . . .
I believe my daughter has absolutely done her best–but I also know she is academically extremely capable. There is a disconnect and I can’t yet pinpoint it.
Her report card stated they are fostering “independent learning” and she needs to ask for help when she doesn’t understand the instructions because she is very quiet and obedient.
She is 8.
I hugged her and told her it was fine, we would schedule a parent conference, and it’s ok. We moved on with our evening.
And then bed time rolled around. My daughter was sobbing into her pillow, feeling ashamed. I wanted to say bad words about grades in general but didn’t.
I remembered this amazing children’s book we have been reading written by Max Lucado called “You Are Special.”
It’s about these wooden dolls who stick dots for bad things and stars for good things on each other all day. Except for one character, to whom the stickers don’t stick. She ends up taking a sad dot-covered doll to meet their maker, who tells him, “The stickers only stick if they matter to you.”
I reminded my daughter of this story and the perspective “A”s are stars and “C”s are dots to her.
But I asked her, “Does this change how much I love you?”
Does this change how much God loves you?
Does this change who God has made you to be?
Does this change whether you can make a difference in the world?”
She shook her head.
“That’s right, darling daughter. NO. A thousand times, NO.
Nothing you do will make me not love you. Nothing you do will make God not love you.
“You are so loved. I’m sorry you’re feeling bad about your grades. Daddy and I are going to meet with your teacher to find out how to help you earn better grades.
I whispered: “(And don’t tell your brother, but grades don’t matter as long as you learn what you need to learn, until high school.)”
She hugged me and said, “You always know how to make me feel better, Mom. thanks.”
I prayed for and with her, thanking God for loving her so very much. Asking God to give her courage at school and teaching her what God wants her to learn.
I still want to say bad words about report cards and arbitrary grading systems. I will employ self control.