Thursday, November 02, 2006
(c) Staci Stallings, 2006
Okay, let's get real. We've all had them. Those horrible, horrendous, completely awful moments in life when we did our best but when we get the report card back, it's not the grade we hoped it would be. My daughter recently had such a moment. It had been an extraordinarily tough semester, and during the last six weeks, the wheels came off the wagon.
She was stressed. Too much homework. Too much reading. Way too much math. Too little sleep. No time to play. No time to draw or climb or just be. And she's only in the fourth grade.
Then came the report card with the C+ in Social Studies. I understood the reality that at her school a C+ is an 84, and an 84 is not failing in anybody's book. However, the C+ did mean that she fell off of the A-B honor roll she'd been on since early in her third grade year (they don't give grades before that). So here she was on the downside of the grading curve with the last grade tallied, and it wasn't what she'd hoped it would be.
My C+ moment came when I was in the fifth grade-only mine was a B+, and I cried for a week. Up to then, I had been an A student. A honor roll every six weeks from first grade on. Then I hit the solid brick wall of "I should've done more." Having learned a few lessons about the grade not being YOU from my experience, I knew I had to find a way to turn my daughter's C+ into a blessing though clearly in disguise.
I told her that the C+ simply meant we had to work harder the next six weeks, that I would take a more active roll in helping her, and that I was proud of her for doing her best in a tough situation. During the next six weeks, she learned that it was all right to ask if she didn't know something. She learned to overcome her penchant for getting distracted with CD's of relaxing water. She learned to concentrate on math and to not take on so much for reading. By the time the report cards came out the next semester, I knew she was doing better.
I didn't know how much better until she opened it and started calling out the grades to me. A. A. A... You got it. She made the A honor roll for the first time ever. She took the C+ and made lemonade!
It was a great lesson for her. It was a better lesson for me. How many times do I look at the C+ moments or the F moments of my life-those times when I feel like a complete failure, those times when I struck out so many times it's pointless to keep trying... How many times have I taken those moments and used them as an excuse to quit rather than seeing them as an opportunity to observe what isn't working and change it?
Is that easy? No. She still had to study. She still had to seek answers for better ways to study. But the point is not that it was easy, the point is she was willing to take a C+ moment and turn it into a lesson she can learn from forever. In my books, that deserves an A+.
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