I open up my seven-year-old’s report card and of course he has straight As in every subject. He has excelled at school since he started. He started kindergarten already reading. He really doesn’t even work very hard for his straight-A report card. He’s the kid who can do the bare minimum and still be successful. This is the report card most parents love to see. I, of course, praise my son and tell him how great he did.
I move on to report card number two. I unzip the Minecraft backpack and find the report card stuffed in the front pocket. My 10-year-old’s report card is filled mostly with Cs and Bs but he has an A in science, which is his favorite subject. I also notice all of his grades have increased since second term. This is a really good report card for my older son. Unlike my seven-year-old, I know my older son has always had to work much harder for those Bs and Cs. School has been a struggle since day one, but he is the hardest working child ever. He continues to persevere despite the challenges he faces. He never gives up and I love seeing his progress. I also praise my 10-year-old and point out the fact that his grades have increased. I tell both boys I am proud of them and we plan a reward trip to the trampoline park.
I honestly always thought my children would be straight A students and that I’d get to go see them get lots of awards but then reality sank in. I learned early on with my first child that not every child will be a straight A student and honestly not every child is capable of getting straight As. I learned to stop expecting straight As but to expect my children to do their best. If their best is a C and I know without a doubt that they are doing their best then I will congratulate them for that C. I don’t set standards and tell both my boys that they have to get straight As because not every report card is equal. It wouldn’t be fair to expect my two boys to perform the exact same way. This would be like somebody telling me that I have to play basketball with the same quality as an NBA player. It isn’t ever going to happen no matter how much I practice or try; I am five feet tall and not capable of being as good as someone over six feet tall.
My approach is to set high expectations for my children but also set expectations that are attainable and reasonable for that child. Not every report card is equal and not every report card can be interpreted the same way. We have to expect our children to do their best even when their best isn’t straight As.