I like to think that my children are special, that they are funnier than average, sweeter than average, kinder, smarter, better looking than any other child out there. With the exception of yours, of course.
Maybe it’s because she’s the second born and has been playing catch up all her life, but since about the age of two Helen has been running with her sister’s crowd. She learned to ride a bike earlier than most of her peers, to skate, to read, to add and subtract. She gets irony, she made up her first joke at 4 (an early4 😉 ) and it was funny! (Why didn’t the skeleton cross the butt? Because it had a crack in it!) Since preschool her teachers have raved about her writing, her ability to grasp math concepts, her mad skillz with the science and book learnin’. In all her years of academia the girl has earned exactly one B on a worksheet. Everything else has been a √+, S+, E, or an A or A+. Smart, right?
Enter 3rd grade. We love her teacher. We love her new school. Her teacher loves her. Her new school loves her. We get rave reports. Helen is an excellent student! What a joy! Easily grasps difficult concepts! Goes above and beyond. She has earned straight A’s and all Satisfactory under the breakdown of skills column (which makes for amusing report card reading. “Look Helly! It says ‘ASSSSSS!'”). Just this past quarter she has voiced her displeasure with never getting anything higher than an S. “I make straight A’s,” Helen said. “I study and pay attention and I’m in the highest reading group and math group! What’s a girl gotta do to get an E in that joint?” So, basically, I wrote her teacher expressing those sentiments – something along the lines of, “What does Helen need to do to raise her S-es to Es?” I was fully expecting something along the lines of “keep her desk neater,” or “memorize the periodic table of the elements.”
I got my smackdown reply.Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rosie, E means that a student is showing consistent excellent work, and S means satisfactory performance. S is considered to be on grade level. E is considered to be consistently above grade level. While Helen works very hard and is very successful at a third grade level, she is not consistently working above a third grade level. Thanks! Sweet 3rd grade teacher
There is more to the letter. It’s kind and her teacher assures us she’s very proud of Helen and all her accomplishments and that we should be also, but I’ve got to admit that it left me feeling disappointed. What does she mean that our daughter is not performing consistently above third grade level? How does goes above and beyond not translate into above grade level? How can she be blind to Helen’s brilliance? How can she not see the glaringly obvious above-average-ness of our child?!
It’s bugging Jack, too. I know it is because he will apropos of nothing say something like, “Seriously? She’s average? Really?” And I’ll know exactly what he’s talking about. Then we’ll both stop and watch her do something extraordinary like breathe and shake our heads. Clearly she is advanced. Right?
There is nothing wrong with being “at grade level.” It’s where she should be. She’s on target. She’s a happy girl and successful and a hard worker. She’s popular and athletic. She’s kind. She’s a little edgy. She’s funny. She’s the total package. When all is said and done, my kid is who she is, and I am in NO WAY disappointed in her! I’m disappointed in my reaction. I find myself wondering if I’ve been one of those parents. You know the type. Their kid’s poo don’t stink. Last week I simply had to stop Alistair from spending one more hour on his research into cold fusion and force him to go outside and interact with his peers. We hates those parents. We aren’ts those parents.