Fourth Grade Was The Devil
This school year gave Charm and I the blues! It was rough on us both, and we were just trying to make it out alive. I have sat up more nights the last few months trying to figure out if I’m getting this mommy thing right, and feeling like I am failing miserably!
Charm is so outgoing. She is most definitely the social butterfly that I could never be. When I am withdrawn and hate walking in a room of strangers, she walks in and makes friends instantly with everyone. No matter where I go, people who know Charm always have a great “Charm Story”. She’s a people person, an entertainer who loves putting on a show. Unfortunately, she’s that way at school as well, and instruction time is not play time. I wouldn’t say that Charm hates school, but she is by no means fond of learning certain subjects. To make her sit still to learn math is blasphemy in her eyes, and her grades reflect it.
When most parents are posting their kids straight A report cards on social media, I am praising the little Baby Jesus if we make it through the quarter with no Ds, some Cs, and a couple of Bs. We’ve reduced her participation in extracurricular programs to minimize distraction. To raise her grades, I’ve tried motivational speeches, offering incentives, telling her she needs to set higher standards, and even punishments. At the beginning of the year, I took all of her toys and electronics, and I told her she could get them all back when things started improving. All that was left in her room was a desk, dresser, bed, and her favorite stuffed animal. Guess what? She was completely unbothered! She is 100% capable of finding entertainment out of absolutely nothing. She will sing to herself, dance in the mirror, or just sit and have 9-year-old conversation with me about her life!
She was growing tired of me complaining, and I was growing weary trying to find ways to motivate her.
I was more stressed out and concerned about Charm’s average performance than she was. I went through a phase of what’s wrong with her or is something wrong with me. I kept asking myself “what am I doing wrong” and “why isn’t she getting better grades”. I found myself preaching to her about needing good grades so she could get into college one day. Telling her about the way “the world is set up”. She was growing tired of me complaining, and I was growing weary trying to find ways to motivate her. I was sitting around trying to figure out why my child is rebelling against being a star student at school when here I am in the middle of a PhD program earning my third degree. She should know how important school is!
I try my best to lead by example, and to provide her with every opportunity for growth. If she needs a tutor, we get it for her. I hire the best baby sitters, who have recently all been medical students, for the nights that I have class. I stay in close contact with her teachers, and have no issues scheduling visits to go to the school to address any issues. When I talk to her teachers, I always get the same reports: Charm is such a sweet girl, but she loves day-dreaming and minding other people’s business.
Then one night I started thinking about myself as a child. In that moment, I realized that Charm is exactly who I was at her age, and that absolutely nothing is wrong with her. She’s not failing school, she’s healthy, she’s happy, she’s provided for, she’s creative, she’s respectful, and she’s compassionate and considerate of others. She love’s dancing, singing, and making weird videos. She’s observant and never gets in the car after school without asking how my day was. She needs a little extra help staying on track. I had to stop being so hard on her, and so hard on myself.
I had in my head expectations for Charm. I am throwing those out and embracing the things she loves and that make her happy, while sitting in the background guiding and nudging her to stay on track; even if it’s not the exact track I want her on. And perhaps I’ll take a page out of her book and stop being so stuck to the standards and embrace a little more creativity. Not saying that she will get free rein, but definitely not trying to make her into my idea of “perfection”. I have to find balance in discipline and expectation. I have to be her mother and give her guidance and set the boundaries, but I also want to develop her into a woman who pursues her dreams! She may not be my little scientist, but she is amazing and I know she will turn out just fine.
- Encourage our kids to be who they desire to be.
- Accept our kids are not us. They are individuals with their own personalities.
- Provide enough structure and discipline to keep them on the right path.
- Don’t get caught up in the comparison game.