Do you know what my favourite time of year was when I was a kid?
[Ugh, I know. I was and am a total school nerd.]
Really though, I loved report card time. It was my time to shine. I wasn’t great at athletics even though I tried so hard, but I was excellent at academics and almost always landed in the top of my class. So report card time was my Christmas, really and truly.
When I became a teacher, report card time was still my favourite time of the school year. I loved watching my students grow as learners and I felt that report cards were such an amazing opportunity to give them feedback that would help them learn and grow even more.
Now I’m a parent, and I’m seeing report cards from a completely different vantage point.
We just got our report cards home and my kids did a great job. They really did. And while there’s room for improvement, always and forever, I know that they are well on their way to enjoying the learning process that is offered through school.
As much as I am proud of their academic accomplishments, there is something else that speaks to me more strongly than it ever has before. Both my children had remarks on their report cards that said more to me than an A+ ever could.
Their report cards each said (in their own way):
They are a good friend.
They include other kids.
They are kind when is someone is hurt.
They try really hard.
They listen (mostly) to their teacher.
They show respect for their peers.
I may or may not have cried a little in my parent/teacher interviews following the receipt of those report cards. And as embarrassing as it is to admit my tears, I’m definitely not embarrassed to talk about how proud I am of my kids becoming really good people.
I thought as a parent I would be really focused on and worried about academics. After all, that way my strong suit and I want my kids to find school as easy as I did. But, funny enough, academics are absolutely not my main concern. Of course I want them to learn how to read and write, and enjoy the gift of knowledge that so many others do not have the opportunity to obtain. But still, it’s not my parental priority in the way I had always assumed it would be.
Instead, there is something more vital to me when it comes to raising my two boys: their character.
It is so much more important to me that my kids are good people than academic scholars. It is so much more important to me that my kids are loving & thoughtful than ‘straight A’ students. It is so much more important to me that my kids know the value of kindness, compassion, and courtesy. If they have those attributes – if their hearts are truly tuned in to the needs of this world – then and only then will I feel like I’ve succeeded as a parent.
I know we’re not there yet – believe me, this past weekend it felt like I was in the middle of a WWE SummerSlam match at my house, they literally could not keep their hands off each other and may have spent more time separated than together – and I KNOW I am so far from the perfect parent (LIKE SOOOOOOOO FAR!), but the comments from their teachers on their report cards made me think that we are at least on the right path. And that’s all I can ask for right now.
Isn’t it funny how much our priorities shift and change as our children grow? Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be more focused on the character of my children than their academic ability. Never did I think I could burst with so much pride when reading “Your child shows compassion” on a report card. NEVER did I think I would be crying tears of joy during a parent/teacher conference (oy! remind me of this when I am crying tears of sadness during my first visit to the principal’s office, ok?).
But I guess as we age and mature as parents, our priorities truly do shift. And for now, my focus remains set on helping my kids turn into teens and then grown-ups that know the value and worth of other people & treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve. If they can show that more often than not, then I think I will have done my job as best as I could. And that’s all any parent could really and truly ask for.