03 April 2014


We’re more than halfway through the Doozer’s Kindergarten year. And it was time for a school visit. That’s right, parent-teacher conferences.

We are so old.

Anyway, conferences were actually called “Celebration of Learning” and they took the form of our child acting as a miniature tour guide (with a clipboard and a checklist) leading us around his classroom and pointing out the highlights. He was very officious with that little clipboard and very dedicated to the operation.

The first stop was the spot where kids check in when they arrive in the morning. A large touch-screen at the front of the room has two columns marked Home and School. Beneath the headings are all the names of the students in the class. The Doozer went right up to his name and with one quick finger-swipe, moved his name from the Home column to the School column. It was awesome. I want one.

No, really, it was cooler than anything I had in 12 years of school. And college. Okay, so there was beer in college, that was pretty cool, but other than that . . .

So we worked our way through the rest of the checklist. The Doozer showed us his journal full of stories (lots of memoir-esque pieces about times he played toys with Little Brother and went out for ice cream), a science station where we experimented with the waterproof-ness of various pieces of fabric, his mailbox, his cubby, his locker – no, really, his locker. What is this, high school?

Not long after this visit, we received his report card. Correction. We didn’t receive anything. Report cards are not mailed home as they once were. We received a notification that said report card was available for viewing online.

Seriously, so old.

Anyway, he received high marks across the board, proficient in every subject. Except one. The only less-than-proficient mark was in math.

That’s my boy.

Apparently we are not only united by our love of Star Wars and the Arctic Monkeys, but also our inability to handle the simple concepts of addition and subtraction.

Of course, there are some things that can’t be measured by a report card. Proficient is an insufficient descriptor when it comes to the full character of your kid. It was just this morning when I was negotiating with the Doozer about balancing reading and screen time this evening. We made a plan to spend some time on the computer together when he was done with his reading.

Not long after, he reminded his mom that she had given him a consequence for some misbehavior the night before. He was not supposed to spend time on the computer today. That’s right. His parents forgot about a consequence they doled out, and he reminded them of it. What is that? Where does that come from?

And how do I avoid screwing it up?

No, really, this is the true test of parenting. Forget about keeping them alive, making sure they’re fed and that they sleep, and that their diapers are promptly changed. Not screwing them up. That’s the biggest challenge we’re going to face.

Genuine, innate goodness. True honesty. Legitimate character. The Doozer gets the absolute highest marks in these categories. (Of course, his tiny shadow is a completely different story. If I was working on Little Brother’s report card, he’d get high marks in animal noises, willful independence, and sweet dance moves. However, if he was graded on being a decent roommate or a reasonable human being, the outcome would be very different. But that’s a story for another time.)

Now I just have to figure out how to help steer him into these qualities and keep him away from cynicism, bitterness, and negative energy for as long as humanly possible. Way easier said than done.

Good luck, sir.

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