Celebrating the "C"
My daughter came home from school the other day with a smile wide as could be. “My teacher said she was really proud of me in front of the whole class,” holding up her graded math test. My eyes travel to the score that has my daughter dancing with glee, a score so impressive that her teacher made note of it front of the whole class. I focus my gaze on the impressive score of……Seventy-Six. I feel ‘mommy tears’ come to my eyes as I hug my daughter and tell her how proud I am. Then I promise to make her a special dinner to celebrate.
Why, you may ask, am I crying happy tears over a C? Have I succumbed to the new-age philosophy that celebrates the mediocre? Will I be that parent who claps every time her child clears their place or gets dressed in the morning by themselves? Far from it! I’m not celebrating mediocrity, I’m celebrating tenacity.
I’ll let you in a very known secret about dyslexics, math is our adversary. I often struggle with the steps and forget to put decimals and commas along the way. If by some miracle, I have arrived at the right answer, I often switch the numbers. So, if the answer was 65, I would put 56 and not even realize my error. It has been said that even Einstein had a math checker because of the math mistakes he would make.
I remember a time when I was about my daughter’s age, studying for a particularly hard math test. I reviewed the equations every day for two weeks, going over the steps, rechecking my work. The day of the test arrived, I did my best, gave it my all. I received a 75 with a “well done” written in red ink next to my score. I was overjoyed, until I saw the paper of the girl sitting next to me, with a 95 at the top. She glanced over at my test and declared, “maybe you should have studied more.” I nodded in agreement, not wanting to admit that I had studied, and this was literally the best I could do. I came home and threw myself on my bed, declaring myself stupid. It took a long time for me to get over that label, sometimes I still struggle, but I know for sure I will not pass this label down to my daughter.
Imagine if I were to shrug my shoulders and say, “not bad,” regarding my daughter’s hard work? I would be undermining her achievement. Because of our encouragement (mine, my husband’s and the teacher’s) she goes to her room to study, without having to be asked. She is determined to get a few points higher. Her motivation doesn’t come from our nagging, but from the positive outcome she received for her dedication to a subject that she struggles in.
And if any of my children does their best, I will do more than simply accept it, I will celebrate.