Last month, the boy received his first public school report card. He’s in kindergarten, he hasn’t taken any ‘tests’ yet, so this really shouldn’t be a big deal but for some reason, I made it a big deal.
Why? Why are my expectations so high? Why do i care so much?
Good questions….First of all, he did fine on his report card. Sure, I’d love it if he scored the highest, for all categories but I really didn’t think that was likely. The school gives numbers, 1-4, not letters. Lowest being a “1” for needs to “improve” up to 4- (mastered the skill). Most entries were a 4 but a fair amount were a 3 (proficient).
Maybe my expectations were so high because people keep telling me how ‘special’ or ‘smart’ or ‘gifted’ he is. Last year, at his Chinese preschool, the director told me he was “very smart, one of the brightest students at the school.” Recently, a parent who volunteers at his current school said he is reading ‘near the top of the class’. Naturally, I soak up all that praise and it helps set an expectation that probably is too high.
Also, I think I want him to excel because when I was in elementary school, I did not. I was a good student, average to above average in most subjects but never felt I measured up against the top students in the class and that bothered me. I never learned to accept myself as is. It helped motivate me at times but more so, I think it lowered self esteem. It’s ok to be just a ‘good’ student. This is something I definitely want to help the boy “master”.
For awhile, we’ve noticed he sets the bar VERY high for himself and gets extremely frustrated when he isn’t able to complete a task or meet his high expectations. Anything from drawing, practicing guitar to building legos, he expects he do it, quick and no mistakes. Accepting himself as is, I hope this isn’t an ongoing issue for him.
The other week, I had a beer with a friend who has a son in elementary school. This kid is a gifted athlete, with fantastic coordination. But, he struggles in school and his parents know he isn’t anywhere near the top in his class and likely will never be. The dad seems to have accepted this and really impressed me when he said, “he is mostly a really happy kid and that is what matters most.” Both his parents have graduate degrees and excelled throughout their academic career, so it’s gotta be really tough to see their child as ‘average’ in the classroom. But, I give them credit. Being a ‘really happy kid’ is what it’s all about.
Having a kindergarten report card full of ‘4’ is not what really matters.