What do you mean average? Not good? Just doing good enough?
That's what came out in Joshua's report card recently. Looking back, I wasn't too bright a child either. Sure, I did well enough in the BIG exams but my toes curl in fright when I think about MY OWN report cards when I was younger. Let's just say there were more reds than blues (or blacks) in there and my favorite letter begins the word "Favorite".
My parents did not see much of my report cards, during those days because I would hide them in my closet. I would go back to school telling my teacher that I lost my report card. My teacher would issue me a new report card the next semester. The cycle repeats itself the next semester.
This is not the first time I am receiving my son's report card. I received the first one last semester and we (my husband and I) giggled over it a little. I looked, relooked, analyzed and checked everything in the report. Was I proud of the report? Erm, half-half. I was proud that my son made it this far and it warrants a report. I mean, someone is GIVING me a report?not the other way around.
It sort of makes me feel like a President or something, you know. And it confirms my status as a "Mother-with-a-school-going-child". But I was rueful about what was actually IN the report. I gripped the report tightly in my hands and stared at it ? someone is reporting my son's progress to me and this is dead-serious business!
This is what the teacher had to say about Joshua's performance in school. "Joshua's progress is slow but steady. He is proficient in his numbers and phonics but weak in his motor-skills". My focus was on "slow" and whatever the teacher said next in the report was irrelevant.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHEN YOU SAY SLOW? A thousand things went through my mind: You mean, he's not good enough for you? Do you mean he's not even average? Does it mean he's not performing as fast as he should? Did she mean that his other classmates are performing far better, a little better or outrageously better than him? Why did she start off with "slow" and then end with "weak"? Does this mean she thinks he really sucks in school?
Then my mind wandered off to other kids in his class? How are they doing? Are they able to form words by themselves without help? Can they READ? Can they do simple maths already when my son is still struggling to differentiate between 6 and 9? Can the other kids count to 100 when my son can only count to 10? WHAT WHAT WHAT?
Yup, this mother is worried that she is raising an under-average kid? Is it her fault? Not enough fish? Too much chicken? Not enough pork? Not enough vegetables in his diet? Maybe I should give the kids three tablets of Multivitamins instead of One.
It bugged me, to say the least. It shook me and made my mind whirl uncontrollably to think of the possible contributions I have made to his slow progress.
But you know what? Does it matter?
Joshua is THREE and a HALF years old!!! What was I doing when I was 3 ?? Did I even realize that when you place letters together, they form words? Can I even count to FIVE (I am quite sure I can count to THREE)? Is there actual pressure on my poor son to perform in KINDERGARTEN? He's not even due for kindergarten yet.
To my knowledge, there are parents who send their toddlers (18 months old) to school and I am like, what? These parents may be using the preschools for various reasons and most of them are valid ones.
Then how come time for the report card, and everything catapults out of place?
Give the guy a break! He's not even dry by night yet and you expect him to spell "Mississippi"? I can't even spell it right without using the Thesaurus function in the Microsoft Word program, ok?
But I AM definitely proud of that tyke. For instance, he can count till 15?except for the three-teen, two-teen, one-teen, five-teen?.etc. But it works for me. Does it matter now?
He knows "M" makes the sound "mmmm?". Does it matter when I say "M is for Mommy" and he says "No, M is for Monkey" and I say, "M is for Mommy too" and he shouts and growls like his tail is on fire. Does it matter?
Probably not. "M" can be for "Monstrous", for all I care.
Marsha Manung is a freelance work at home graphic designer and writer who resides in Selangor, Malaysia with her husband, Peter, and 2 kids, Joshua and Jared. She is the author of "Raising Little Magicians" and "No products to sell" and other work at home books. Visit http://www.marshamaung.com for more information.