This a guest post by Shirley Anne Smith. Thank you for a wonderful perspective.
In 2015, I celebrated two weddings- my brothers and mine- as well as the announcement of the pregnancy of my third child. Most people would say that I was on cloud nine and experiencing the best life had to offer. What most people didn’t know however: I was facing one of the hardest moments in parenting with my oldest child. The child whom everyone nicknamed the “perfect child,” was now failing two classes in the fourth grade. Yes, you read it correctly, the fourth grade.
Let me go back just a little to provide context. My son was tested for gifted in kindergarten. He scored an IQ rate of 134 at just five years old. Most children are not tested for gifted until the first or sometimes the second grade going into third.
Because of a high score, the teachers and administrators recommended that we skip from kindergarten to second grade. My argument against skipping grades was mostly based on emotional capacity to adjust to social norms of second grade while only being five years old. The school was such a great advocate- they created a gifted curriculum for my son since gifted didn’t start until second grade.
Now back to the beginning of the story. It’s his fourth grade year, I’m engaged, and everything in my life has halted due to his failing school. Everyone I consulted told me it was because he had experienced too many life changes – a new soon to be stepdad, a new school, and a new house. And while I didn’t argue that wasn’t completely true, I also know our children are more resilient than we give them credit for. Needless to say, I felt horrible and almost guilty for all the “good” life had given us.
I blamed myself time and time again and felt his grades reflected poorly on my parenting and the type of mother I was. For whatever reason, I could not help or teach my son how to be the perfect son or a perfect student.
Fast forward and now he’s an A and B student. While it’s not the Principal Honor Roll (like it was in the past) I had to learn to redefine success and attainment for both of us. The B’s -he has worked really hard for; the A’s – most came naturally.
Sometimes we all have one moment or another where we want perfection and we do everything to seek or maintain perfection. I no longer allow the A’s to define him, myself, or the relationship I have with him. And while I have learned to be more vigilant of school work and different learning methods, he is still the perfect son. I also have enjoyed being more active in not only his academic trajectory but also the school administration and practices to meet a student’s wide array of abilities.
What was once a very hard time in my life with many shed tears, has now allowed my son and I a platform to discuss a new normal . . . because the sun always comes out after the rain.
Ronald if you ever read this, I love you my perfect child.