Friday was the day that the first progress reports came home from school this year, and somehow, for the first time ever, I forgot about it. I didn't realize it until this afternoon when Connor was digging in his bookbag to find out if he had homework to finish. His discovery sent Janelle rushing off to find her bookbag and hand me hers.
Connor's report card was fairly good, pretty much as expected. He isn't leading the class, but he has a pretty good handle on everything, and other than a few issues with keeping focus and staying neat and organized, his teacher thinks he's an awesome kid (which he is, of course).
Janelle's report card made me heartsick. She has always struggled with staying focused, because she has such an active imagination, but her teachers have always managed to be positive and cheer her many strengths while encouraging her to speed up and stay on task. For the first time, her teacher seemed to find far more negatives to highlight on her report than positives. "Needs Improvement" was more common than "Good" or even "Satisfactory".
I wasn't taken completely by surprise. The teacher had called a couple of weeks ago to discuss Janelle's progress in reading, saying that she knows she can read well, but because she reads so slowly her reading level would have to be set back. I got off the phone miserable, and in the end, quite angry. Janelle loves to read! Am I supposed to take something she loves to do and insist we use a stopwatch every time she does it? Does adding that kind of pressure really help? She is a pokey little puppy! Everything Janelle does is at the pace of a turtle. She will never suffer from stress or high blood pressure. She cannot be hurried, but her work is always neat and perfectly done. When I asked for suggestions, the teacher was not helpful.
At suppertime we tried to talk to Janelle about the importance of staying focused and on task and completing her work more quickly. We tried to impress upon her the importance of keeping her mind on what she is doing, but I know that urgency is not a concept Janelle really understands. Since birth she has done things when she is good and ready. She was born six days late, didn't walk until 17 months, didn't talk until she was two (when she opened her mouth and surprised us with full sentences). She is amazingly self-assured and confident, and I hate the idea of compromising that in response to a negative report card.
So tonight I have a Mommy ache. I'm hurting because I know I have to start getting tough with my little girl. I'm hurting because I feel like her teacher doesn't recognize how amazing she is. And I'm hurting because I don't really know where to go from here to make it all better. Time to get on my knees!
Tonight I am thankful for Janelle, my imaginitive, articulate, brilliant daughter. I wouldn't trade her for all the speedy little girls in the world!