An important part of being a mother is getting to know if one’s kids are doing well at school or not. It happens three times in a year that I get to receive a love letter from my kids’ school; I receive this in fall, spring and obviously, at the end of the school year. The large enclosed envelope is not always easy to find. My kids try to hide it beneath the loads of books, copies and stationery, and I always have to slide my thin and long fingers through the heap of papers and plastic to finally get the feeling of an enclosed envelope that will reveal what my kids are made of.
So I rip off the fancy envelope with school’s name, logo, address and whatnot, and I skim and scan the pages to eventually get to the paragraphs that actually matter the most. These paragraphs are actually the gist of what my kids have actually accomplished in that specific term. These paragraphs are actually the teacher’s personal assessment of my kids. They show how my kids acted, reacted and reacted to the reactions of other students, their teachers and the school staff.
So I get myself a cup of coffee, I sit on the couch in an easy posture and I digest and ingest my kids’ behavior sip by sip. I want to know less about their grades and more about how they treat people and about the people they are turning into. I still recall those relentless parent-teacher meetings that my husband and I have been to, and how we sat in inhospitable and tough plastic chairs and talked about the academic, extra-curricular and social progress of my kids. I was always less interested in their A’s and more interested in their overall attitude and approach towards life.
It is only recently that I read a quote from Jack Ma: founder of Ali Baba and found out that I am not so wrong to not be hell bent on grades. He says that he is okay if his son gets ordinary grades because only this kind of student would have time to learn other skills. I also believe that a student with ordinary grades would have more time to reflect on their personality and flaws. So, I am not so wrong to care less about how many new words my son has learned and how many mathematical equations my daughter can solve! See, my areas of concern are entirely different!
Do they respect their teacher and do not consider her a lowly employee of their school? Are they getting familiar with the idea of diversity that we are Americans are so losing grasp of? Are they considered friendly and open? Are they helpful and caring? Do they invite their class fellows to lunch or games?
I know! Some of you might say that I have lost the track of objectivity and that schools are actually the launching pads from where our kids start their journey to the top of the world! It’s true and I am also among those mothers who would want to see their kids excel at academics and rock the world, but A’s are not equal to knowledge and wisdom. Grades reflect the academic success of my kids, but my major concerns are about the overall personality-building.
I would prefer a compassionate kid to a Mathematics genius with infinite ego, I would prefer a king-hearted kid to a devil who can swear in two different languages and I would prefer a social and helpful kid to a pedantic monster who knows scientific formulas more than how to win hearts and minds. It’s not that I am not concerned about the wellbeing of my children, but get it, I not raising robots to satisfy a cursed demand and supply mechanism, but human beings.
This is why my children and I do not have the casual “getting home from school” discussions. I do not ask them if their Mathematics quiz went well or if they scored well in their language test. To the contrary, I always ask them to tell me one act of kindness that they did at school or if they made a new friend. Before ever you get me wrong, let me explain this. I would love to see my kids become successful doctors, lawyers, engineers or pilots etc. but I would die to see them become good human beings who contribute to society and never deprive themselves of the blessing of giving.
On her first day to school, I kissed my daughter’s forehead and I told her three secrets to success. Number 1, angles are not found in fairytales, but they are normally found at schools: not with backpacks on their backs, but glasses on their eyes and whiteboard markers in their hands. Number 2, at times things appear impossible to us. Every adult person starts their day with many impossibilities to face and yet they start their day with a new aim to turn the impossibilities into possibilities. And number 3, everyone needs a little magic in their life to make things good. I told her that she is that abracadabra and no one else can change her life for good, but only she herself can do it.
I am just an ordinary mother like many others and I must confess that it feels good when my kids come home with good grades, assessment results and everything, and I wish them all the success in the life. However, what I wish them more than any other thing is an A+ personality, behavior and attitude towards life. I want them to get A+ in kindness, humbleness, generosity, compassion and friendship.