February 2, 2014
I got my son’s very first report card the other day. Yes, I had gotten progress reports from Nursery School before, but this was a real “Report Card”. The kind that you get in elementary school. The kind that goes on a record that someone can look up years afterward.
I wasn’t expecting it. I knew that I was going to get them this year and that they would come eventually, but I certainly didn’t mark it my in calendar or anything.
I unpacked his lunchbox and then I looked inside the school folder and there was a sealed envelope. Seriously, I was standing at the island for a full ten seconds with this envelope in my hands and still didn’t know what the hell it was. Totally on top of it, I know.
Then I realized. Crazy Asian mom came up in my head, replete with anxiety. THIS IS HIS FIRST REPORT CARD. Subsequent thoughts: “Do I open it right away?” “Do I need to wait for my husband to come home so we can pore over it together?” I called my husband at work, ever the calm participant in our conversations, and he said, “Oh, go ahead and open it.”
“Should I open it while we’re on the phone?”
Silence. (Which means, “Go and open it because it’s a frikkin’ kindergarten report card and there’s nothing in there so incredibly outrageous that I would need to know about it before I make my next major life-altering decision at work.”) Then “It’s okay, honey. I’ll look at it when I come home.”
So I opened it, and the first thing I had to do was acquaint myself with the new legend. When I was in kindergarten, you had two possible outcomes:
1) Unsatisfactory or
You were basically gunning for the pass. And to get a “U” you had to tackle a classmate with a self-fashioned shiv and show no remorse when the teacher pried you off the unsuspecting fool who got accosted while he was trying to wash the tempera paint off his smock with the brown paper towels that did nothing.
Apparently, things have changed. The system has been revised. There are now four possible outcomes:
1) Student requires on-going intervention to develop this skill
2) Student demonstrates this skill some of the time
3) Student demonstrates this skill most of the time
4) Student consistently demonstrates this skill
Subsequent thoughts: “Does this translate into the standard A/B/C/D?” “Can we really make these kinds of distinctions in kindergarten?” That seemed too crazy, especially since I’m first generation. “Do I add up all the numbers like a Cosmo quiz to figure out if my kid is ‘really smokin’ kindergarten?'” I shrugged the crazy thoughts off and started going through the line items being assessed, glancing anxiously back up at the legend like it was going to give me some context. It really didn’t. Because how often is “some” and how often is “most”? Is “some” infrequent enough that my kid is getting on the teacher’s nerves because he doesn’t have his shit together? And then it hit me.
The verbiage above is code for the following:
1) You really need to work on this shit whether you know about it or not
2) You need to start worrying about this shit if you aren’t already
3) Your kid has this shit mostly covered but could do better
4) You don’t need to worry about this shit at all
And then the world made sense again. Anything that had something less than 4 I just compared to my own barometer of whether it was high enough on my radar. Turns out the teacher knows him as well as I do, and at the very least he’s consistent. I then signed the report card, assessed myself a 4 for “Ability to Read a Report Card Accurately” and rewarded myself a 500 calorie drink at Starbucks.