Report cards for 4 year olds. Yes, really.

preschool report cardsWhat, your preschooler doesn’t get report cards? You must not live in New England.

We are wicked competitive here, so we start tracking them early.

Can’t tie your shoes by age 4? Not destined for greatness. Reading Dr. Seuss fluently at age 4? Great potential for Phillips Exeter.

Ok, so I exaggerate. A little. Because in Grace’s case, the report cards are more like photocopied assessment-type things. They evaluate whether she uses her manners, recognizes letters, and doesn’t throw too many blocks at other kids’ heads.

But a few weeks ago when I was looking over Grace’s little report card, I realized something with horror.

I was looking for the “bad” marks first.

I wasn’t looking to see what she had accomplished. I was looking to see what her teachers thought she wasn’t accomplishing.

And this is when I also realized I was channeling my dad.

I started thinking about the days when I dreaded getting my own report cards. Not because I thought I did poorly. But because I knew when my dad saw them, I’d feel awful, no matter what I accomplished.

I always felt like I was never good enough no matter how hard I tried. “That’s great you got an A-, but I thought English was your best subject. Why not an A?” “A 3.6 GPA? Why not higher? I thought this was an easy semester for you.”

My dad was a complicated man. He was a genius. He came to this country from Hungary at age five with nothing except his family and a few trunks of clothes, not speaking a word of English. Twelve years later he went to MIT on a Fulbright scholarship. But his collegiate career didn’t go the way he wanted it to go, for many, many reasons. And he never graduated.

I understand now that my dad wanted me to have everything he didn’t. He was, in his way, trying to get me to always try harder, keep doing better. He just wanted me to succeed.

But his tactics didn’t mesh with my personality. I just wanted some recognition of how hard I was working. How much I accomplished. What I was doing well. I didn’t feel I got that from my dad until I was an adult. I always felt not good enough. And I don’t want to do that to my girls.

I want them to know how proud I am of what they achieve. Focus on the positive, and then when the time is right, discuss what can be done to help them improve in areas that need improvement.

I’m sure it’s easier said than done. But that’s my goal. And given my lineage, it’s probably going to be hard for me.

So this time I will fight the hereditary urge to look first for what needs to be improved on Grace’s report card. And I will remember to give my big, proud girl a big, proud hug.

Then, in a secret, sound-proof room, Hubs and I will dissect the report card, course-correct where necessary, and devise a brilliant plan for Grace’s path to Harvard.

photo credit: Halans via photopin cc

Back on the prowl and putting on the moves: Mommy dating

Uncertain glances. Hesitant smiles. Some perfunctory small talk as you feel each other out.

The end goal? A real first date.

Playdate, that is.

It is with some nostalgia, and yes, some nerves, but I am throwing my hat back in the ring. It’s time I got back out there and into the world of mommy dating.

I am actually a seasoned mommy-dater. It took a while, way back when Anne was little, to find the right match.

I frequented the popular singles-bars of mommy dating (playgrounds and libraries), looking for the right connection. After some promising sparks I had a bunch of completely miserable first dates.

But in the end, I did connect with not just one person, but a fabulous group of mom friends. Score!

Our kids were young. We were sleep deprived. And we were all looking for the same thing: real, cool, normal moms to hang out with.

Oh, how I adore these ladies. We vent about our kids, tell our life stories, and have a grand old time together. We get together with kids and without kids. These are real, true, stick-together friends.

But now our kids are older and we all have different schedules. No one’s around on the two mornings a week that Grace is home with me. We still get together, but less often with the kids and more on our own.

I know that two mornings a week with nothing planned will get more than a little boring in the long winter months. Having a friend or two to get together with would be nice.

So I guess it’s official: Grace and I have flipped our social status to “looking for a new relationship.”

But this time, I’m finding the world of mommy dating is even more complex.

The first time around, my kids were young enough that they weren’t choosy about their playmates. It was really about the mom-to-mom connection.

But now? Grace is three. She’s got a personality. And so do I. Which means we’ve moved on to double dating. If it doesn’t work for both of us, it’s just not gonna happen.

And the other shocker: I have been around such real, normal moms for so long – both in real life and online – that I forgot how many moms are still so UNREAL with each other.

And I think – no, I know – that when I’m doing the small-talk thing with these kinds of moms, they’re shocked by how honest I am. Which is fine, because they’re saving me from wasting further get-to-know-you time on them.

For example. Holiday break is over. Back to school, dance classes, and so on. I’m chit chatting with another mom and she asks the perfunctory, “How was your vacation?” question.

My answer?

“LONG.”

And the way a mom reacts to that answer tells me whether or not I have any desire to continue speaking to her.

The looks I have received have been telling. One of confusion. One of wide-eyed silence. One of smug judgement. And one of complete and total understanding, accompanied by a conspiratorial laugh.

Guess which mom I spent an hour laughing with during our girls’ dance class?

She’d be a kick-arse mom to hang out with, but her younger kid is boy and they live kind of far from us. Sigh.

Could’ve been so beautiful, could’ve been so right…

Wish us luck at the library next week. I hear it can be a bit of a meat market.

 

 

 

 

 

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