If you met me on the street, you’d think I’m a normal run-of-the-mill human being. But don’t be fooled, because sometimes I am two people inside my head. We’ll call them Miss Rational and Miss Emotional. Well, Miss R and Miss E got into a big ole fight today. I’ll give you a glimpse into the conversation once you have the backstory.
Our 11 year old is in the 6th grade gifted program in our district. She worked a year and half to get in, usually missing the required standardized test scores by one or two points. Making it into the program mid-way through the school year last year was a huge accomplishment for her and she was THRILLED. She was also excited for this quarter’s subject: guided independent research on a topic of her choosing, which was Alaskan Wolves.
The quarter started around November 1st, but by Thanksgiving we got a head’s up from the teacher that 11yo wasn’t turning in stages of the required assignments. We are very hands-off parents with regard to homework, but we stepped in at this point to help guide and coach our chronically disorganized and potentially overwhelmed young student.
Fast forward to today: project and presentation due date when, in the car on the way to school, I discover that the centerpiece of her research, a telephone interview with a gentleman from the Alaskan government who works with wildlife, was omitted from her bibliography. I was already struggling to keep my mouth shut about the lack of reference to this interview in her presentation, but when I heard it wasn’t even listed in her bibliography of sources, I hit the roof. “Take out the bibliography and WRITE IT IN,” I bellowed. It was at this inopportune time that she discovered she hadn’t even printed out and included the bibliography, a major requirement of the project.
I cried all the way home, heartsick, while Miss E and Miss R took it to the mat inside my head.
Miss E: How completely embarrassing.
Miss R: What? Why? It wasn’t YOUR project.
Miss E: It’s incomplete per the rubric, it had PENCIL on the final project info board, it’s uncreative, she’s ill-prepared – and it shows. It’s a complete DISASTER.
Miss R: It’s not your project.
Miss E: I’m the parent, it reflects on me. People will think I’m a bad parent who can’t motivate my child to be responsible and follow directions. Worse, I’m a STAY-AT-HOME parent – parenting is my JOB.
Miss R: Every kid goes through this and besides, grades don’t matter.
Miss E: She’s had this organizational “issue” since kindergarten. This isn’t a one-time thing – it’s an ongoing problem. She should have this organizational thing figured out by now. She has great teachers, involved (but not OVER involved) parents, and all the tools she needs. And grades are only unimportant in theoretical discussions on Twitter. We all know that in the real world, GRADES MATTER.
Miss R: Remember your 5th grade book report and poster on Daniel Boone that you did ENTIRELY the night before? Hmmm? You were the poster child for procrastination. And grades DON’T matter. Learning matters.
Miss E: Demonstrating learning matters. She didn’t demonstrate it. Don’t tell me grades don’t matter. Are you saying that 4.0 MBA I have is irrelevant? I worked HARD to earn those grades. And I learned not to procrastinate because the alternative was even more uncomfortable.
Miss R: (amused) So you don’t procrastinate anymore?
Miss E: Shut up.
Miss R: She’s bright, she’s creative, she’s imaginative, she’s kind-hearted, she’s thoughtful, and yes – she’s a bit scattered and disorganized. She sometimes can’t focus because her mind goes in a million directions. Everyone has issues of some sort.
Miss E: (dismissively) Yes, yes – she’s a great kid – but she has FAILED this project. She did this in some of her regular classes, too, so this will be her worst report card EVER. She’ll never get into the magnet school for the arts to which she is applying with those grades.
Miss R: So what if she fails this project? The gifted class isn’t graded. Maybe she’ll have learned from it. And a few B’s or lower on the report card aren’t the end of the world. If she doesn’t get into that school, she doesn’t. Life goes on.
Miss E: It would have been so much BETTER if I had done the project. It would have been complete and TOTALLY creative and top notch.
Miss R: It’s not your project. You had your chance. And what would she learn if you covered for her?
Miss E: The project would have rocked, and I’d've felt better about it.
Miss R: Not in the long run.
Miss E: Nothing is solved.
Miss R: Nothing ever is. Correct one weakness and another will emerge.
Miss E: Life sucks sometimes.
Miss R: Yep. Sometimes. That’s life.