As a parent, there’s no greater sense of pride than when your kid brings home a report card full of A’s and you can tell everyone else about it.
Or so I’ve heard.
There are scores of smart, talented kids out there. It goes without saying that some of them are bound to be smarter and more talented than my kids. I’m friends with many people who have kids gifted in one way or another. That’s great for them. I’m happy and/or amazed and some of the things they’ve accomplished. It’s just hard for me to hear about these kids without wondering about mine. I don’t have concerns about The Girl yet. She aces just about everything put in front of her with little effort and she gets glowing reports from every teacher she comes across. Then again, The Boy started out that way. He didn’t get stupid or anything. He’s actually a really bright kid. He just doesn’t know it.
The standard parenting lament since the dawn of time is that a kid “can do so much better” or “isn’t performing to the best of his abilities,” etc etc. I used to hear it all the time when I was a kid and I barely even understood what it meant (or I stopped listening–I forget which one). Now that I’m the parent, I totally get it.
The Boy hates school. But that’s not so strange. What kid actually likes school? The kids who liked school were the dorks, the losers, the “neo maxie zoom dweebies” (an argument can be made that John Bender hated school). So maybe The Boy is just trying to be cool by underperforming. I’ve seen his friends. A lot of them are idiots. But he has one friend who’s parents make him take academic classes over the summer. Unfortunately, it’s not wearing off on The Boy.
Am I alone in this feeling? Do other parents obsess over things like middle school grades and extracurricular activities? It’s about keeping up with the Jones’s kids, isn’t it?. Every quarter, the local paper prints a list of students who have made honor roll or high honor roll. And I skim through it not to find The Boy’s name, but to see the names of the other kids who made the list. There are lots of smart kids on that list. There are kids who work hard to get good grades. And there are dozens of morons. How are these knuckle-draggers making the list when The Boy isn’t?
The answer is “who cares!” He’ll be fine, right? We’ll try harder this fall. And when I hear about someone who’s 4-year old daughter speaks fluent Mandarin, I’ll pretend to be thrilled.
Epilogue: I was working on this post while riding the bus out of Manhattan when The Boy sent me a text. He had just pitched a perfect game in MLB 2K12 on the Wii. Ha! Take that, cousin who’s 4th grade daughter just spent a semester overseas in Switzerland!