We watch our kids throughout the school year studying and getting their lessons, as my great-grandfather used to say; we look over their graded papers, read e-mails from their teachers and discuss the progress reports with them.
So we have a pretty good idea where each child stands with their schoolwork and report cards should not be a surprise. When JP stood across my desk from me last night and handed me a manila envelope with his name on it, I had a pretty good handle on what I was to find inside. I was ready to shake my head, wring my hands and berate him for letters that were a little deeper into the alphabet than I'd like, for unacceptable conduct grades and everything from missed opportunities to a failure to study to leaving the fax cover sheets of the TPS reports.
I opened it, slid out the paper and found myself with a parental dilemma I was not expecting. I was confronted with As and Bs. I was stymied by the ribbon that came along with the report card announcing inclusion on the honor roll and was faced with the task of not looking surprised.
Agog is what I was, yet I couldn't show that. I had to act as though it was exactly what I'd expected, that any less would not have been tolerated, but that was never going to be the issue.
It's not that JP is dumb, mind you. Not by a long shot. He just ... masks his intelligence in a youthful exuberance that involves jumping, skipping, falling down and running into walls. He does his homework like a Tasmanian devil, blowing in and whisking his pencil around before leaving the room again in a flurry of folders and notebook paper. He forgets to have papers signed, turns things in not quite on time, yet pulls it all off somehow.
I'm proud of him and I am surprised. I'm surprised that he seems to have gotten the hang of 3rd grade much quicker than I'd expected. So much sooner than I'd given him credit for.
It's up to me to encourage, acknowledge and reward him during each grading period, and for the last nine weeks I'd give myself a D with so much room for improvement.