All day yesterday I was feeling anxious. It was conference night at my kids' school and I feared the worst. Not so much with my second grader because I knew he was doing fine, although not always showing his best work, but on target in the necessary areas.
It was my first grader my mind was reeling over.
Now, I've always known my daughter is witty and funny and a delight to be around. She makes us laugh or say, "Aw, so cute!" every day. But when it comes to study habits and academics, it's a struggle. Schoolwork for her is a have-to, not want-to. I get that. I was like that in school too. Under-achiever of the year. Every year. LOL. I never flunked out or anything, but unless the subject interested me, it wasn't worth my best effort. And homework was something done right before class started in the mornings.
Mind you, this is a terrible way to be and Hubby and I are desperately trying to instill better study habits in our kids. We want the best for them, obviously, and understand it won't always be easy getting them to understand that.
Aside from that, most of my close friends have gifted children. Even my relatives. School is easy for their kids--even understimulating--and they don't have to struggle at all. Talking about kids and school with these friends and family is like me making a science project for the MIT science fair. Totally out of my league. Don't get me wrong, I think it's fab so many of my friends and relatives have gifted children and hope to see everyone of them highly successful! But when my little girl is struggling to spell easy words and mixing up addition with subtraction, sometimes I feel like I live on a different planet.
So when it was time for the conference with her teacher I was biting my nails. Almost certain I'd hear the words she wasn't going to move on to second grade. I already had my speech ready--I'd promise to get her a tutor and work hard all summer if she could pretty please go on to second grade.
Her teacher started with the good news, that my daughter's the best in her reading group and has come such a long way since the beginning of the year. Phew! That was a relief. I knew her reading had improved immensely and we read EVERY night. But that wasn't the part I was worried about. Her writing (go figure!) and math are where she struggles.
BUT! Her teacher said she will move onto second grade, and does think a tutor would be helpful (since she hates learning from her mom. Go figure!) and that she rushes through the work instead of taking the time. I knew that already. No news to me there. I was relieved to hear she'd make to second grade.
Marginal note here ------> I love working with my kids and teaching them, but they don't like learning from me--they just don't see me as a teacher in that aspect, which is hard for me, but it is what it is. And while I strongly believe their school is vital to their success, neither do I want to stress out a 6 year old about it either. They have their whole lives to be stressed. I believe childhood should be about learning, as well as blossoming into likable, confident individuals. <End of soapbox rant>
Then came the news I was expecting: she's having trouble with writing and math and needs lots of work. *sweat beads on my forehead* But then! Her teacher went on to say that we shouldn't worry too too much. Huh?
I stopped to listen.
This teacher is an older lady, been teaching over 20 years, and a tiny bit intimidating. Sometimes she can sound militant and curt, but I also know she genuinely cares for her students. She had my full attention, and she looked into my eyes and said something that lifted the academically ungifted weight right off my shoulders. She said aside from my daughter's struggles, she is a kind, happy, helpful little girl. One who goes out of her way to pat another kid on the back if they're feeling sad. She radiates joy with a genuine spirit. (I'm sure my eyes were twinkling at this point.) Teacher went on to say that, while her academic performance needs to improve, these other qualities are so much more important--that she's taught genius kids who didn't have an ounce of respect or personality, and that, as parents, we should be proud of the amazing person our daughter is.
*sniff sniff* I almost hugged that teacher right then.
While it's not the exact words every parent dreams of hearing when imagining the success of their children, it made me stop and appreciate my daughter's strengths. It reminded me that, as people, we all have different strengths and weaknesses. As writers, our stories all have different strengths and weaknesses.
Which is why we need each other. *insert People Who Need People song here*
If we were all self-sufficient and brilliant in every way we wouldn't need anyone and thus, live a lonely life. It was a perfect reminder that we all shine in our own way--and the bits that don't shine, can, after lots of polishing.
And here's someone who is gifted and shining brightly today. I'm sure her mom is extra proud!!
Jessica Mckendry's YA book is out for sale today and it's awesome! Super excited for her. Click on the gorgeous cover below to purchase.
Exploring the nature of self-reliance and self-confidence, McKendry delivers a perceptive, nuanced portrait of the importance of teamwork and the strain it puts on individual desires and motivations. Playing with the concepts of dark and light, her novel is a complex coming of age story that encapsulates the complicated hero’s journey from student to leader. A dark tale of love and revenge, From the Ashes is a powerful reminder to think for yourself instead of blindly following what you’ve been taught to believe
Find Jessica on her blog here. And on GoodReads here. Congrats Jess!
And to everyone else, thanks so much for stopping by! Have an excellent weekend! Do you let your strengths shine over your weaknesses? Have you, at times, overlooked your own gifts? Or your childrens'? Has a teacher helped you see the light when you least expected it? Please share ...