What The “F”

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Just before I set the table for dinner, I check the school district’s app for parents, the one that shows at a glance, attendance, grades and, assignments. The red indicator at the top tells me I have new messages. I feel dread as I click on it.

The list of grades while unsurprising, deflates me. I go on to serve dinner, clean up and retire for the night. A friend’s comment “you do care about grades…” rings in my ear.

I tell myself I do not. But, I do.

Often, just as I tuck kids into bed, I give them my spiel on effort and results.

“I do not care about results, but I do care that you try.”
“So long as you turn your assignments in, I am good.”
“Will you please focus in class tomorrow and do your best?”

Variations on this theme sneaks its way into morning coffee time, lacing up the shoes time, evening snack time, dinner time and bed time.

I tell myself I must let go, truly let go. I must be willing to let my children fail and learn, for what is not intrinsic will not last. My head gets it. My heart does not.

The tussle is real.

I go back to my cultural leanings, the lessons I imbibed by osmosis. Grades and the rank in class mattered, the constant comparison at home drilled into me that even if I did not do very well, I did have to go to college. There was literally was no other option. The path was set in stone. School, college, marriage.

I took a detour that included employment. That detour was one of free will. I did that because to not do so felt wrong. Employment gave me an identity that school and college did not. That the job I worked was/is not my calling is a different thing but being financially independent did something for my self esteem that other things did not. I stuck with it because the need was innate.

I reason with myself that my children will figure out the way themselves. The ghosts of my past echo around me that if I did not make the effort with my children now, I will regret it later. This conflict gnaws at me. I give myself grace and remember that we are in the midst of a pandemic. All children around the world are seeing its effects in different ways.

In the grand scheme of things, all will be well. All has to be well.

6 thoughts on “What The “F”

  1. This. I struggle with this everyday. And when there are two kids of the same age who are academically eons apart, the struggle is beyond words. Everyday, I pray that the damage I’ve done to them with my words is minimal. Hugs Lakshmi! ❤️

  2. OH God, I so relate to this. It is a hundred times worse for me because (i) mine is in 12th, and (ii) I live in India, where grades and marks still count.
    I was an overachiever in school. I got state rank and all. My daughter, however, creative as she is, is certainly not an academic performer. I am so torn.
    Hugs Laksh.

  3. As long as basics are in place, grades don’t matter. When they aren’t in place, grades are a clue for us to work to get basics set. My parents never worried about my grades, I wasn’t a great kid on paper up to Grade 11. Never worked enough, honestly. My mom would be in school if ever any behaviour related grade was at issue. What do I get? The kid whose behaviour is off the charts! It isn’t easy to let go, especially since these are hard held values. Not grades but learning is my mantra. Effort and then you’re done, however test day went. I struggle daily with the behaviour part, so know what you mean. Hang in there!

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