Thursday, 12 July 2007

The Report Card: Demons Unleashed!

By Whimsy ChiChi

Mr. ChiChi Junior just got his first report card. I know that it's not officially called a report card - more of a progress report - and he is just in nursery, but it's one of the firsts in his life to be packed away with the first lock of hair, first photo and first words diary. Before you start with your oohs and aahs, you'd better read on first!

As a mother it is nice to hold on to memorabilia; Whether to give the kids a sense of rooting when they are older or whether to brag to future in-laws of the achievements of your offspring. But I have, I've been told by my lovely husband, taken this all somewhat to the extreme. I carefully label every item from writing on the backs of photographs (when the photo was taken, where and who the persons in it are - even if it's just us) to keeping the butts of plays we've been to, to holding onto every single doodle and scribble. We have a shrine set up with all the empty boxes he's glued together at school. Empty old boxes that would serve the better good if they went to recycling. It may be extreme, but the paranoid individual in me keeps these records in case, just in case I should be struck down with amnesia or some other disease that attacks the memory cells. Pessimistic? You bet. But some things we just can't help.

Where was I? back to the progress report. Sure it revealed a lot about how my darling fares in school away from my doting self, and how he gets along with his peers, teachers and other general matters such as developmental and cognitive progress. But this progress report has also been a personal eye-opener. It has brought out a side of me that I never knew I had. A side that may not seem too pretty if left unchecked. I realized that I was hanging on to every written word. I was left wondering whether my son's progress was good enough? How did he compare to the other kids in class? Did X's son get a better assessment? and was Y's son better at scribbling than mine? And although it said my four year old had proper command of the pen, did that mean that Z did too? Was my son ordinary or exceptional? Stop! Is this really me? Who is this perfection seeking monster holding the report card? Oh God, I realized, who and what had the report turned me into? He's only four I had to keep reminding myself. Oh God, oh God, oh God!

Let's face it, we all want our kids to be the best out there, but rationally speaking we also don't want to exert undue pressure on them to perform beyond their capabilities. Give me a happy, well-rounded child any day, and who cares if he messes up his 123s, he'll learn them soon enough. It's the psychological upbringing these days, in my opinion, that matters most. It's the values we instigate such as hard work, respectful behavior, and doing what they love that will make them the adults we aspire them to be. Sure academics matter but it's the overall picture I seek.

Rationalizing it all seemed to calm me down as I kissed my darling and wiped away at the tears that threatened to escape. Laughing to myself, I officially declared myself a mental cow, made a cup of coffee and went to call X's mom. "How was Junior's report?" Come on, I told myself, it's only to prove I care. Honest!

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