Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

Great Expectations

I generally think of myself as a fairly enlightened mother. I try not to compare my highly exceptional daughter (!) to other children and not worry about her meeting other children’s milestones, either. At least I did until she started kindergarten.

Worrying about our children's performance in school is normal. But how can we maintain realistic expectations?

Amazingly enough, my kindergarten daughter has homework each night. She brings home a folder on Mondays with her homework for the week and she turns it back in on Fridays. The following week parents receive the previous week’s homework back to review. And that’s where the trouble started. Each assignment receives a grade; a check plus (Completed without errors), a check (Completed with errors) or a check minus (Complete, Needs Work in this area). Naturally, I assumed my daughter would receive all check plus’ on her work. Imagine my horror when I found only a check on one of her assignments. I frantically began searching for the error on the page but I couldn’t find one. I immediately began doubting my child’s teacher. Crazy thoughts began swirling in my head, things like; maybe she just didn’t like my daughter, maybe her expectations are too high. How long has she been a teacher, anyway?

And then, I found it. There was the error staring back at me. The assignment was to color all the circles on the page and Maddy had either forgotten or missed coloring one of the circles. I took a deep breath, and then began laughing at myself. Had I really just gone into panic mode over my daughter receiving a check instead of a check plus on her second week of kindergarten? This was silly. Maddy and I would both be in for a very long, painful academic experience if I was already overreacting to the grades she was receiving.

It seems these days there is a societal pressure on our children to excel and excel early. There is also a very natural, human desire to want to your child to be the best at whatever they are doing. I am doing my best to balance those things against the reality that no one is exceptional at everything.  Undoubtedly, Maddy will receive her fair share of check only marks over the course of her school career. And that is okay.

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