posted Wednesday October 22nd, 2014
I dragged myself into the house the other night after work, exhausted, preoccupied with how quickly I could make dinner and hit the couch, when Sophie stopped me in my tracks — literally.
“Look!” she said, pulling me over to the refrigerator, where she and the nanny had posted Sophie’s first junior high school report card.
“Can I sleep in your bed?” she asked. That’s Sophie’s question these days, pretty much anything might qualify her for her favorite reward, an all-night spot between her parents.
“Wait a second, let me see this,” I said, slowly digesting the grades. A B+ in Science, an A in Chorus, an A+ in Art. Okay.
But an A+ in Language Arts? I knew Sophie had done very well on several vocabulary tests, learning words like anthropomorphic and sidle. Then I thought about the parent/teacher conference I attended a few weeks ago, and how the language arts teacher looked at me with sympathy and suggested that I buy Sophie a few books from the Madeline series so she gets the hang of actually finishing a book, rather than just collecting age-appropriate chapter books she’ll never read. Now an A+?
And an A+ in math? Please. As far as I know, no one on either side of our family has ever gotten an A+ in math. And I’ve watched Sophie struggle with simple addition, let alone multiplying fractions, the current curriculum in her class.
An A+ is, I suppose, one way to keep an annoying parent from calling, right? In my case, not so much. For me, a grade like that is a red flag, a sure sign that my kid is your mascot, not your honors student. On the rare occasions I’ve taught over the years, I’ve avoided the A+ like the plague. Really, who’s deserving of that? And what incentive is there to go on, to improve?
And yet — that’s a pretty freaking awesome report card, right?
I stood in front of the fridge, resolving the call the teachers, but knowing I wouldn’t — not for a little while, anyway. Sophie deserves to bask in the glow. I’ll take a little of it, too. I’ve never been the type to believe in an A for effort; in my world, you better put out the work befitting of the grade. But I’m often reminded that Sophie has rocked my world — in a good way.
I turned from the refrigerator and reached down for the littlest sixth grader ever, pulling her into a hug.
“YES!” I said. “You can sleep in my bed tonight. I couldn’t be prouder of you!”
And I meant it.