My son placed his report card on the table underneath a pile of papers, routine, run-of-the-mill stuff that you find each day in your kid’s backpack. I think he hoped that the report card would skip our attention and disappear in a pile of minutia, never to be seen or discussed again.
His disappearing magic act worked.
My wife and I completely forgot that report cards were coming home that night. It worked another night and another night.
Finally four days later, we mentioned that we were surprised our son’s teacher didn’t say anything about report cards being late. When we questioned him, he stuttered and stammered and came clean that he had put the report card on the table.
I skimmed the report card and at first I didn’t notice anything. I missed it completely but I knew something obviously was up or he would have been jumping with anticipation to show us the report card the minute he got home. He got a couple As, a B in social studies and then I noticed the C in English. We could have handled the C fine, but my blood pressure instantly spiked when I read the teacher’s comment that he had a number of missed assignments.
The assignments were news to us and, if he had put in minimal effort, he would have easily pushed the grade up to a B or even A. We’ve always told our kids that we could handle less than perfect grades. We couldn’t handle poor effort. And the teacher’s comment showed us instantly that our son wasn’t putting forth his best work.
I lectured him on how he was throwing away his learning opportunity. He was being lazy and he failed to put his best foot forward. I went on-and-on. After about 20 minutes of this, he started crying. It was not one of my finest moments. He needed to be corrected. He didn’t need me putting him down his every move. I had gone too far.
“Great dad, way to go.”
You need a license for that
Parenting is challenging in any situation and, God knows, I’ve made too many mistakes to count. After nurturing our kids through middle school to college, I’m only half joking when I say that parents should be required to get a license before they have kids. You shouldn’t be able to leave the hospital until you can prove that you’re not going to kill off your kid by some stupid act. I’m not advocating for more government or making some odd political statement, I’m just commenting on the challenges of being a father in today’s environment.
You need a license to drive, own a gun, go hunting or fishing, have a pet. Some areas of the country you need a license to protest or perform in a public square. Why not to be a parent?
Yes, yes, I’m joking, but I still remember walking out of the hospital with our newborn. My wife and I looked at each other and were convinced that the nurses had to be out of their minds to let us leave, in charge of something as beautiful and precious as our baby girl or a few years later, each of our sons. We had prepared a ton for being parents and yet we still had no clue what we had in store over the next few weeks, months, and years.
I was so cautious driving home from the hospital after each delivery that I nearly got us into an accident. I wasn’t racing or anything stupid like that. I was just so cautious of getting in a wreck that I drove 15 miles below the speed limit. Good father behavior don’t you think? I hope that made up for all the dirty looks and middle finger salutes I gave the countless other drivers whizzing by us.
Yes, this parenting thing is challenging. Here’s hoping I get a handle on it one day, at least before my last child graduates high school. And yes I’m running out of time.