Poor Students or Poor System

IMG_3052Both my sons got their first semester report cards last week. They are only in the 5th and 2nd grade, so I don’t pay too much attention to these evaluations.

Unfortunately, both boys are below grade level. Fox, the younger son, had more minus signs than average or plus signs. Jett, the older one, had more 2s than 3s or 4s. A 2 means “developing,” while a 3 means “proficient.”

I take responsibility for these low marks. I want my sons to have fun while they are kids. We don’t stress too much over homework. We spend more time outdoors than in the library.

In the comments, both my sons’ teachers used the word “struggling.” I’m still not too concerned because I was a teacher, and I know when the time comes, I can easily bring them up to par.

Another word that both teachers used was “kind.” “Jett is very kind to his fellow classmates.” “Fox is a kind, considerate, and curious student, well liked by everyone.”

At first I was upset that my sons were so far behind in school, but upon further reflection, I was grateful that they are both kind boys.

I’ve always said that I would rather my sons be kind and compassionate than smart, academic, athletic, or “successful.” I was a very smart kid. I graduated magna cum laude and did well in graduate school. I landed a cushy job as and was making more money than I could shake a stick at. But I was not kind. And my lack of compassion poisoned all of my accomplishments.

In the span of three years, I was unemployed, on the verge of divorce, and diagnosed with cancer. I had to learn the hard way that “compassion protects you more than guns, bombs, or money.” (Thich Nhat Hahn)

I have no idea how my sons will perform in school at the higher levels, but I do know that armed with kindness and compassion it won’t really matter where they land in the world. They will be OK.

What would you like to score high in on the report card of life?

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