no more excuses…


I understand this is all the rage…have the kid tell their parent how well or not they are doing in school by having the student give their parents a look into what they have learned; yet I miss the old fashioned, stop by and see the teacher. Last night the doll and I sat in a room as she explained to me how she graded herself against the letter grade she received. I don’t think the doll was prepared for my reactions.

We walked into the room and her teacher handed her a folder saying, “Do this just as we talked about this afternoon…and if you need one of us…” She then pointed to the table where all her teachers were seated, “…then we are right here for you, Okay?” The doll shook her head and we turned to find our own place to talk. Atop the folder, the doll had written, “Conference: I can statements.”  Upon opening the folder, the doll pulled out a yellow evaluation form; one for each class, which allowed the students to show what they studied the first quarter and their own assessment on how well they understood those concepts. First up was Science. “Mom, I received an ‘A’ in this class and here is why…” she said as she went over the concepts they tackled the first quarter. At the bottom of the sheet was areas where she could improve.

Last year the boy left those areas blank for any class in which he received and ‘A’. Thankfully the doll always finds things she can improve upon: Be better orgonized. In fact across the board on all of her class sheets she wrote “I need to be better orgonized”. Then we came to Social Studies–a class which gave her some struggles the first quarter. “Mom, I did bring my grade up from a D to a C and right now I have it up to a B for this quarter.” She said triumphantly. “Okay, but you gave yourself high marks for understanding the different religions and you flunked that test. Do you  even remember any of those religions you learned about?” “What’s that go to do with anything now?” she asked. “Well doll, you’re going to have a semester exam…where they look at everything you learned the first two quarters and test you on them. Can you tell me who Buddah is?” “Mom!! I learned that the first week of school I don’t remember that far back. Besides,  I don’t see why that’s relevant right now!” She replied. “Doll, this is your worst class; am I right?” I was met by a silent yet venomous stare in return. “Do you really think you should grade yourself well in areas that you failed?” I asked. Again I saw nothing but daggers  shooting out of those beautiful tricky green eyes of hers.

Instead she changed the subject by pulling out a Social Studies test in which she did well–as if to show me she’s improving and I should just back off. As she turned the papers over, I noticed she had misspelled “Orgonized” several times and her teacher had circled the word to denote the misspelling. This test was taken in early October. “Doll, did you notice you misspelled orgonized?” I asked. “MOM!!! THIS IS NOT ABOUT SPELLING!!” She said in the quietest yell ever heard. “Um yes it is. Your teachers are going to be taking off points for your spelling…which could drop you down a letter grade…” I replied. “MOM THEY ALREADY DO!! THEY HAVE BEEN SINCE THE START OF SCHOOL!! NOW DROP IT!” She said completely annoyed. “What? If your teachers already do, then why haven’t you taught yourself how to spell that word?” “MOM YOU ARE NOT MAKING SENSE. YOU JUST WANT TO MAKE ME CRY AND EMBARRASS ME, NOW STOP!!!”

“Are you done yet?” I asked once her quiet tantrum ended. “MOM!” “Doll, here’s your test from early October and you misspelled ‘Orgonized–O-R-G-A-N-I-Z-E-D on the test right? See your teacher circled it here and here and…” I said, showing her the test. She sat and stewed before mouthing “I know”. “Yet today, you misspelled the word on all these yellow sheets-a month later. Why is that?” “QUIT MOM, YOU KNOW I’M BAD AT SPELLING!!” The doll tried. “Yes, that’s been your excuse since you were small.” I said and she swatted me. “Listen doll, you were told you needed to have your tongue clipped–for you to be able to pronounce your words correctly right?” “Yes, but…” she began but was cut off by me, “Well you worked really hard and proved that speech teacher wrong right?” She stared back. “You proved with hard work you can overcome anything…why can’t you overcome your lousy spelling—by taking your commonly misspelled words and writing them down…so you can learn how to spell them correctly?”

“Mom, you completely missed the point of this stupid exercise. You were just supposed to listen to me tell you about my grades….not make dumb comments.” She said quite upset with me. “Well then, let’s go talk to your Social Studies teacher…” I said, motioning at the table where the teachers sat waiting to be utilized. “No, that’s okay.” She returned, no doubt worried I would make a scene or something. “Doll, look, I’m very happy with your grades and how well you are doing…but as you wrote on all the paperwork, there is always room for improvement…some of it comes from listening to constructive criticism. I want you to succeed…spelling and understanding the concepts go hand in hand…”

“Can we go now?” she asked. “I’ll show you my organized, with an ‘A’, locker” she said putting the “A” in quotations with her hands.  “See…even at conferences…you learn something new…” I said, before being swatted as we left the room.



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