Sweating The Small Stuff

February 25, 2010

Yesterday, Emilia brought home her very first report card. Emilia is four. Just yesterday she was in diapers and nursing and the only thing that anyone ever reported about her was quantity and quality of her bowel movements. How did we get to report cards?

For the longest time, I couldn’t open it. I’m not sure why. The reasons that I gave myself – that reading others’ evaluations of my child would be awkward and challenging; that the report card was a symbol of school and so a symbol of her moving ever further into a life of her own, a life apart from mine; that I just couldn’t bear to see anything other than the highest praise for my child – were not, in themselves, convincing. They just landed in my psyche and fell limp, like drained water balloons, or banana peels, or something else more figuratively appropriate that I can’t think of right now. I was anxious for all of these reasons, and for none of them, and for a thousand other reasons that I probably wouldn’t understand until sometime around her high school graduation, and as I sifted through these known and unknown and entirely inscrutable reasons for my anxiety, I thought, this is the problem. This. This worry. Not the reasons for the worry. The worry itself.

Here, I realized, is one more set of things to worry about. How is she doing in school? What do her teachers think of her? What does she think of them? Is she thriving? Is she not? What words will be used in her evaluations? What will the words mean? Emilia is working to use her conflict-negotiation skills independently… Emilia uses oral measurement tools correctly… Emilia actively enjoys playing Submarine and is proud of her navigational abilities… Emilia loves to collect data from her peers and explain to the class what this data represents (wait, what?) (Years of graduate training in critical textual analysis and I’m stymied by a junior kindergarten report card. Is my daughter a Black Ops Naval Intelligence Officer in training, or is she just good at math and challenged by conflict? Also, what are ‘oral measurement tools’ and should I be worried?) One more set of things to worry about, one more reason to stock up on Ativan. When does this all end? Does it ever end? Will I be fretting over her tenure review when she’s thirty and teaching International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Goverment?

Motherhood, for me, has been a complicated mixture of anxiety and joy. The joy, obviously, outweighs the anxiety – by volumes it outweighs the anxiety – but the anxiety is always, always there, lurking in the dark corners and bursting into the light when I least expect it, casting shadows, imposing a chill. Emilia’s junior kindergarten report card – the first report card of years and years of report cards – was a reminder that there are anxieties awaiting me that I haven’t even yet thought about, anxieties that lurk in shadowy corners that I’m not even yet aware of. That I’m not prepared for these worries me – but to devote my energies to seeking them out in advance just fosters a different kind of anxiety, and so I find myself caught in a cycle of worrying about worrying and worrying about worrying about worrying, and you can see how this could be a problem.

I don’t want this to be problem. I want to just get her report card and snicker a little over her teacher’s observation that Emilia is quick to raise her hand and eager to share ideas and ask questions but sometimes needs to be reminded to let her peers ask questions, too and not be so quick to sweat the small stuff and to remember that, really, it is all small stuff, so long as we’ve always got the joy.

And we do have the joy. Also, data-collection.

How do you fight the impulse to obsess over small worries? Do you obsess – even a little – over the small worries? Or is this just me? You can tell me if I’m crazy. I kind of already know.

(IS a report card a small worry? It’s not, is it? It’s HUGE, isn’t it? IT IS. See, I’m totally not crazy. I am ALERT. I know a your-kid-is-so-totally-going-to-be-a-Mossad-agent warning when I see one. SO THERE.)

(I am so freaking doomed.)

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    WestEndMom February 25, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    I don’t think you can expect the worry and anxiety to go away….I think it is all part of the ride. I will say this, having grown up as the daughter of a mom who completely resented, feared, and was threatened by my friends, my teachers, my coaches and ANYONE who occupied my interest beyond my family and specifically her, I found that I had to lie, sneak around and hide what I was really excited about because I could always feel how let down and how dissapointed she was to discover my life outside of her. Children process our anxiety and it impacts the people they become. Now that I am parent, I totally understand my mother’s feelings in a way I couldn’t have before becoming a mother. It is so HARD, so hard to let them go, keep them safe, hold on, set free, encourage, discourage, etc. I remind myself to just take a big breath and believe that my example and the love in our house, will help my little people not only survive this world, but thrive in it. And sometimes I will be on the ride with them, and sometimes I will cheer from the sides, but I will ALWAYS be there at the finish.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I don’t know if I’m going to make it to the finish. This shit is EXHAUSTING.

    Alexicographer February 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    This made me laugh and laugh. Easy for me to do, as my child is not yet 3. Though I’ll admit I chose his daycare partly to avoid the situation a friend reported, where she had to go to her child’s (very good) daycare to meet with the caregivers and discuss her “goals” for her child for the coming year. Her 9-month old child. Huh?

    Do 4-year old report cards really look like that? Apparently some do? I don’t mean the details of Emilia’s, but rather, the detailed wordiness. Yikes.

    My only advice to you would be the following, and it’s too late: rather than starting motherhood by having children, start motherhood by becoming a stepmom to teenagers. I do think (having done it) it helps put many parts of the early years in perspective. Forget her tenure review — you’ll survive that. It’s her starting to drive independently and go to college parties, and traveling, and camping, that you need to worry about. I’m just saying. Sorry, that’s not reassuring, is it?

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Her report cards look like that. I have no idea why.

    And the idea about teenagers is awesome. How do I trade my kid in for one?

    Alexicographer February 26, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Well, I got mine by acquiring a husband, but this may prove more complicated and/or illegal (if you neglect to get rid of the one you’ve already got) than you want to fool with.

    Um, you could try hiring an au pair, or simply see if you could arrange a short-term swap … there must be someone reminiscing about parenting a 4-year old. My 3 year old won’t shut up right now, or sleep past 7:30 (which I know plenty of people would be grateful for — I mean, that it’s not 5:30), and I know it’s just going to be a blink of the eye before (… he’s a teenager and) I’m complaining that he won’t talk to me, or get out of bed before noon.

    Bobbi Janay February 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Wait till she can read and starts stressing over the report card too.
    .-= Bobbi Janay´s last blog ..Snark, Love, and Pseudo Celebrities =-.

    Grazi February 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    The whole worry about being woried thing hit home for me. I’m 9 months pregnant right now and just last night i was keeping my husband awake talking about how i was worried i would be too worried when the baby was born andmy milk wouldn’t come and i didn’t wanna have to give her formula, and i was afraid because i was afraid.
    Lovely to know this is just the first of the merry-go-rounds in the world of worries of motherhood.
    Love your blog btw, has been helping me alot through this pregnancy.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    The merry-go-rounds, they keep turning. But, also, they have pretty lights and music, so there’s that :)

    kootnygirl February 25, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    This is the second post I’ve read in two days that deals with worries. There must be something in the air :)

    I feel like I worry about EVERYTHING, and yet I don’t worry about report cards (due to a late birthday, my baby was THREE when she brought her first one home – my god). I think we all have our own neuroses, and that it makes us normal.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Emilia is just barely three months into 4, so, yeah. That doesn’t help.

    a February 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    It’s taken you this long to consider this problem? My girl’s only 3, and I’ve already worried that she’ll end up stupid (or non-exceptional), talentless, with no friends. And afraid of putting her face in the water, and unable to ride a bike because of the one fall (after which she has since refused to try again), and too short, and with bad teeth and braces. And then I calm down again, and just hope/pray that she has a lovely, fulfilling life with as few tragedies and hardships as possible.
    .-= a´s last blog ..Show and Tell – My Valentines =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Have you never read my blog before? This is BY NO MEANS the first time that I’ve gone here. Infinite feedback loops of worry, I has. It’s almost all that I write about.

    Saisquoi February 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    We went to our first parent night this past fall. My daughter was 9 months old.

    I got all worked up over it because what if she isn’t working to her full potential and what if what if what if??? My husband had to remind me that parent night is what you make of it. And I think, perhaps, report cards are the same way. I like to know what she does during the day. I like to know what her teachers think of her–even if I think they’re wrong. I like the communication. But I have to remind myself that these parent-teacher communications are not in and of themselves a reason to stress out. Yet.
    .-= Saisquoi´s last blog ..Pink Eye =-.

    Julie @ The Mom Slant February 25, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Is it bad that I’m already looking forward to the post following your first parent-teacher conference?
    .-= Julie @ The Mom Slant´s last blog ..With apologies to Cliff Stoll and Captain & Tennille =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    No, it’s to be expected. Especially if you like exploding heads. Should be quite a show.

    Amber February 25, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I worry about my kids sometimes. I have a daughter who is bossy as anything and I’m all, “Great, she’s going to have no friends and is going to want to hang out with ME all the time and boss me around for the rest of her life.”

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    Aaaand, now I have something else to worry about.

    kootnygirl February 26, 2010 at 9:40 am

    I posted earlier that I don’t worry about report cards (yet). But THIS, this thing you talk about? I worry immensely about that. I’d be happy to hang out with my daughter for the rest of my life, but not because I’m her only friend. :(
    .-= kootnygirl´s last blog ..a little note sprouts deep(ish) thoughts =-.

    Lona @ I am THAT mommy February 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I am filled with worries for my son.

    Already at the preschool my son goes to we have parent-teacher conferences, where we gather with the teacher at a knee high table, sit on tiny chairs so we look like giants and nod appreciatively at the “samples” of our child’s work that we are shown. And when I see it — and I have a degree in education — and the teacher talks about how he is happy because look, there are reds and fully formed circles and even though his parents are divorced he remembered to draw feet on his stick figures, showing he feels safe and secure, I want to a) tell them they’re nuts and b) weep with relief that he is “doing well” in terms of circle drawing and feet remembering.

    I can only imagine what I’ll be like when he starts real school. GAH.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    We had little meetings like that at E’s preschool. I too wept at the circles and hand prints. I’m probably just going to keep weeping about her accomplishments forever, aren’t I? aren’t WE?

    Lee Ann February 26, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Yeah, the weeping, will it ever end? My 2 year old just gave up the binky. We tied them to balloons and sent them to all the little babies in Heaven…she was fine with it but I cried like a baby!!! I still get teary eyed because this means MY BABY IS GROWING UP! Wow, that thought scares me…

    Roberta February 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    You describe so well how I have found myself feeling about parenthood. Ever lurking anxiety + joy. I swear, I feel like I’ve been hit by a car every time I realize there is something else NEW and BIG to worry about that I never thought of before. What is a big worry and a small? I don’t know – ask me tomorrow, but not today.
    .-= Roberta´s last blog ..Digging out =-.

    Carrie February 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    I just had my very first Parent/Teacher conference for my oldest…she is 3.5yo!! It seems so official when you sit down on little stools to discuss your kid with their teacher…

    Thankfully she is doing great and is a joy in class…wait, are you sure you are talking about MY kid??? But I digress. Worries are part of being a parent. The secret is to try and let it flow over you like water and not suck out your energy too much. Now you know Emilia is doing great so…one less worry, right?
    .-= Carrie´s last blog .."But {insert name here} doesn’t have to!" =-.

    Mac & Cheese February 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I think that I am the opposite of you, in that I worry about very little, hence my non-thought provoking posts. I think my anxiety level is waaaaayyy lower than yours, but I often wonder, especially after reading any of your posts, if I’m missing something, and not appreciating the journey enough.
    .-= Mac & Cheese´s last blog ..I Could Be Simon’s Replacement! =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Oh, gaaawd, now I feel bad for making YOU worry. GAH.

    Remember, I have an anxiety disorder. I should probably put that disclaimer on all my posts. ENJOY NOT WORRYING.

    Mac and Cheese February 25, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    I guess I should learn how to speak to someone with an anxiety disorder. Don’t have anxiety about giving me anxiety. I’ll forget about it the next time I see something shiny or something.
    .-= Mac and Cheese´s last blog ..I Could Be Simon’s Replacement! =-.

    Lisa February 27, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    Love this exchange. :-)

    I’m also not too much of a worrier. Glad to find someone else like that because the blogosphere seems mainly populated with worriers.

    Ironic Mom February 25, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    As a teacher I love spotting the euphemisms in report cards (I know because I write them too). I think “working to use her conflict-negotiation skills independently” is up there as one of the best euphemisms I heard. What does that mean for 4-year-old Emilia?

    I actually blogged about interpreting report card comments (tongue-in-cheek). If you’re interested, check it out here: http://ironicmom.com/2009/11/16/interpreting-your-kids-report-cards/
    .-= Ironic Mom´s last blog ..Raising Normal Kids =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Ha, I’ll have to read that post.

    Yes: *working* to use her conflict negotiation skills *independently*. So, can negotiate conflicts with assistance? Like, say, Yassir Arafat? Or is working on that skill? And conflict negotiation for whom? Herself with others? Others with others? BERT AND ERNIE? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

    Lisa February 27, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I think it translates to: “She runs to teacher every time someone bothers her.” or “I’m telling!” is her favorite phrase. That’s my best guess. Better than hitting as a conflict negotiation skill, certainly. :-)

    TheOneTrueSue February 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Oh how I loved this post.

    I’m a mother of four – my youngest is five months and my oldest is eight, and I am JUST NOW REALIZING that the baby and toddler part? The part everyone obsesses over and gives you showers and presents for? That’s the easy part. I’m just now realizing how many things I will have to worry about over the next EIGHTEEN (have mercy) years.

    The parts that scare me the most aren’t things like academics and test scores – it’s the social/emotional stuff that keeps me lying awake at night. My eight year old is having friendship issues and I’m just starting to realize that I have never actually known real hurt – that hurting for the things your kids go through is so much worse.

    I’m going to be absolutely consumed with ulcers by the time they’re grown, I just know it.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    “The parts that scare me the most aren’t things like academics and test scores – it’s the social/emotional stuff that keeps me lying awake at night.”

    TOTALLY. That’s it exactly, me too, ditto, YES.

    Rebecca @ Playground Confidential February 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Just yesterday an acquaintance was talking about the heartbreak she suffered reading the medical evaluation of her nine year old son regarding his behavioural issues. I told her that he is still her same boy and the love and support that he has always had would see him through whatever obstacles.
    I’m going to have to try to remember that in the years to come, I’m sure. Every day that I pick Colum up from nursery school I want to ask, “How is he doing? Does he have any friends? Do the other kids? Why doesn’t he bring home as much artwork as the others?” But when I open my mouth nothing comes out and I just smile and say good-bye.
    .-= Rebecca @ Playground Confidential´s last blog ..For the Love of Hockey =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Yeah, I angst over what to ask and when to ask it, always, with Emilia and Jasper. But then I wonder whether it isn’t better to NOT obsess over the asking, to have faith that if there’s an actual problem, I’ll hear about, and to just not worry in the meantime.

    Rebecca @ Playground Confidential February 26, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Yes, so now we worry about whether we should be worried.
    .-= Rebecca @ Playground Confidential´s last blog ..For the Love of Hockey =-.

    Tania Thompson February 25, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Yeah, you just crazy.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    That’s what I thought.

    marcoda February 25, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Thank you for this. It seems silly to say now because I’ve been reading parenting blogs for years and I *know* every parent goes through smiliar things but THIS is a big “thing” for me and it’s so nice to hear it’s a “big thing” for someone else. My daughter starts kindergarten this September and just trying to decide what kindergarten she’s going to go to brought about all sorts of worries I wasn’t ready for: the competing she’ll do with her cousin (and his parents.)and how well she’ll do and will she make friends and will our values speak louder than those of her peers and will she stand up for herself and will she be a bully and the hows and whys and what ifs start clamoring against eachother until I have this internal Din of Worry and I have to throw up my hands and say “NOT NOW!” and push it away for another day.

    I know that’s not healthy and the worries will never end but…I spent years my pregnancy months worrying about getting through the infant stage. It never occurred to me that *that* was the easy part of parenting. Now the real job begins. And I’m terrified.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    ‘The Internal Din Of Worry’ needs to be the title of a book or the lead track on the first mom-fronted metal band album.

    Becca_Masters February 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    when you said you were trying to decide what kindergarten to get your little one into, it made me think of The Ivy Chronicles by Karen Quinn. Have you read it?
    It’s an insight into parents getting their kids into the best kidnergarten in NYC (it’s fiction, but totally spot on)
    well worth a read.
    .-= Becca_Masters´s last blog .. =-.

    Emily February 25, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    According to my mom who has two daughters ages 35 and 26, the anxiety and worry never go away. You find different challenges/reasons/things to worry about at every age. Me? I’m probably too lax of a mom and should worry more, but it only makes me break out and gain weight so I try not to furrow my brows over the small stuff. Of course what’s defined as small stuff is different for every person. I pay attention to report cards from kindergarten on up but only worry if there really seems to be an issue brewing.

    My real anxiety as the mother of four, three of whom are girls, stems from friends. You know how nasty girls can be…and I have one daughter dealing with that right now. All my worry and anxiety is channeled there for the moment!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..It’s 11:31 p.m. & I’m craving this… =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    Yeah. Have ABJECT TERROR about that whole impending friend/mean girls thing. ABJECT TERROR.

    the mombshell February 25, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I am giggling because I too have written this same JK report card and besides the hilarity of having to “grade” a bunch of four year on such “strict” criteria as playing Submarine and such, I have also used this same exact statement, “Emilia is working to use her conflict-negotiation skills independently” different name but same comment. It was for a puppet hitter, who hit kids with puppets when he was angry at them and in his precious little four-year-old mind that is how he expressed his anger. If only I could have just said to his parents, “So and so is a peach he just needs to lay off the puppets.” So she could be a puppet hitter and in that case your only worry is how to keep her away from puppets for the rest of her life. If she is planning to be a puppeteer then you are screwed.
    .-= the mombshell´s last blog ..I’ll tap that =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    And now I have to go to the classroom to see if they have puppets.

    Kat February 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I OBSESSED over my oldest daughter’s kindergarten report cards. I read between the lines and then between those lines! Now that she’s further along in school and my second daughter is in school too, I can see that those report cards really didn’t mean that much at all.

    The hardest thing for me to do was to accept that it would be okay for my child to be average. She wasn’t the first to read, or to count to 100, and I panicked that she was “behind”. But at 9 she can read beautifully, is a fine artist, has a spectacular imagination and loves to act. She has friends and rides a bike and skis and snowboards. And she’s fine. She has good days and bad days and I shiver at the thought of adolescence waiting just around the corner for us, but I hope I will be able to tackle that challenge with (a little) perspective, too.

    As a great friend of mine often had to remind me, “they’re not splitting the atom this week”. This is Junior Kindergarten – it’s a chance for her to get used to the school environment and routines. She’s going to change and grow so much between now and even grade one that you won’t even recognize who they’re talking about when you go back to read those JK report cards one day.
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..Bittersweet =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    “The hardest thing for me to do was to accept that it would be okay for my child to be average.”

    There’s a whole ‘nother post there. SIGH.

    red pen mama February 25, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    I’m only 1/2 way through the comments, and you guys (gals?) are making me feel a lot better. And I have an anxiety disorder, so that’s saying something. AND I don’t worry about the stuff that you guys are worried about. Which maybe I should worry about.
    .-= red pen mama´s last blog ..Lost: The Lighthouse =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    And there you go. Sure sign of an anxiety disorder. High five.

    mythoughtsonthat February 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Goodness! I feel worried just reading this!

    And report cards for 4 year olds? Nuts!!

    .-= mythoughtsonthat´s last blog ..The Birds Know =-.

    lisa @thebeadgirl February 25, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    we all do it. we sweat. we obsess. we worry what someone else may think of our near perfect child. we worry that they may not be as perfect as we thought. we think about their future. we worry about what we did in the past to affect that future.

    these my dear…are the normal…albeit crazy…joys of motherhood :)
    .-= lisa @thebeadgirl´s last blog ..Haiti Relief Necklace =-.

    Karianna February 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    So many of us feel this way. It shows we love and care about our children, and their future. (Shall I break out some Whitney?)

    And yet, in “real life” we pretend we don’t. We think we’re alone in our anxiety. And it hurts – BAD – when another mom, dad, or teacher criticizes our child. And yet that other mom or dad probably has heard criticism of their own child. Instead of passing along a smile, we pass along judgment and insecurity.

    I wish we could respect each others’ choices and recognize (and appreciate!) differences in our children instead of thinking “what a bad mom” when her child happens to do something that isn’t perfect.

    I’ve lived through two school expulsions (at the preschool and kindergarten levels) and plenty of frustrating parent-teacher conferences. Thankfully, my son is now in an environment that supports him, but even so, I get disapproving looks from others on occasion. But, because of a few kind and patient souls, I know that my son WILL succeed. That isn’t to say that I’m not still nervous, but at least because I’ve had some of my worst fears realized already, I know I can survive.

    Emilia is fabulous. HBM, you are fabulous. I know that doesn’t ease the anxiety because there is always something to worry about, but she’ll be just fine.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Aw. He WILL succeed. So will you.

    And, I’ll take the fabulous descriptor, even if it fits awkwardly. Thank you.

    Megan February 25, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Seriously, why do they have report cards in junior kindergarten? Please tell me they don’t have homework. They don’t have homework, right?

    And don’t worry so much. Worry changes nothing.
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..A Day At The Park =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    They kinda do have homework, though they don’t call it that. It’s ‘exercises’ for ‘practicing/doing together at home.’

    goofdad February 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    If you know enough to know it’s small stuff, you know enough to lay off it. You have plenty of worries coming, from cars to boy/girl problems to wants and needs that we can’t even imagine yet.

    Remember … GOOD moms (& dads) stress over perfect report cards. The rest of us have better things to do with our time!
    .-= goofdad´s last blog ..So … maybe they’re not so grown up yet … =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Like drink.

    katie | motherbumper February 25, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    And you tell me I over think stuff.

    Mind you G’s first report card arrives the day after the road trip and I’m in denial so I should keep my mouth shut.
    .-= katie | motherbumper´s last blog ..The Flight Of The Rainbow Unicorn. =-.

    Her Bad Mother February 25, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Yeah, let’s talk after you get hers. SUCKA.

    Heather February 25, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    The thing that would have made me worry less about report cards is if you could see how your child’s compared with others in the class. You have no clue.
    After a few years I just read the report cards briefly, showed them to my husband and then stuffed them in a drawer. When the kids were in high school- they did all the worrying.
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..How did you choose? =-.

    heatherw February 25, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    My vote is for not worrying too much about it. I mean really, a report card? For a four year old? Who thinks this is a good idea?

    Why can’t we just let our kids be kids and have fun learning?

    ps. I teach sixth grade.

    Major Bedhead February 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Report cards from the preschooler haven’t sent me running for the Xanax but plenty of other things do. O’s diabetes and the fact that she has a boyfriend? Yeah. Not sure which is worse out of those two in terms of the worryment. Boo’s unbelievably strong will (pure cussedness, actually), The Bug’s thumb sucking and consequent tooth fucked-upedness, her complete and utter attachment to me, the fact that my son and his wife just had a baby (which makes me a *gulp* grandmother) and have no money and lousy jobs and and and and and. My stomach is in knots just typing that little portion.

    Maybe I just can’t hold any more worry so the report card thing kind of slid by.
    .-= Major Bedhead´s last blog ..Put On Your Sunday Best And Fake A Smile =-.

    The Mayor February 25, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Looks like pre-school speak is getting even more covert. Years ago a very nice teacher reported my daughter “likes to direct the play”. I’m like, “you mean she is bossy?”

    That’s exactly what the teacher meant. And at 18 Hailey still is VERY bossy.

    Her Bad Mother February 26, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Yeah. I kinda wonder whether ‘likes to collect data from other children and report to class’ implies something similar.

    cheesefairy February 25, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Yanno my first thought was Yeah. Crazy. BUt then I remembered how just yesterday I was sweating elementary school for my kids (they are 3.5 and almost 2) – OMG what if they get bullied? Teased? Beat up? My oldest is just working out what to do with the aggressive boys at preschool..how am I going to keep him from getting his ass handed to him in grade 7? OMG GRADE 7! A scant 10 years away!

    See, I hated grade 7. I sucked at elementary school. I am socially awkward. I worry most about the things I have experienced badly…math, best friends, will my kid be as picky an eater as I was? You would think that knowing what’s going to be your hot spot in advance would help? But no. As evidenced by the showdown over a kernel of corn that I had with my kid the other night, evidently I have more processing to do and knowing where the mines are does not at all help me step around them because I am staring up at the clouds all the time.

    Maybe it will help you worry less if you think about it that way..that it’s not Emilia’s business, really, it’s YOUR unfinished business. That way you can do something about it. That’s what I’m aiming for, anyway.

    Her Bad Mother February 26, 2010 at 10:22 am

    My unfinished business: YES. You are totally right.

    Also: “knowing where the mines are does not at all help me step around them because I am staring up at the clouds all the time.” I may print this out and put it on my desk. Or stamp on my forearm.

    Julie Cole February 25, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    CC, you will get used to it….I think the thing I find hardest about school is that they are now part of the ‘system’. I have a hard enough time understanding what the report cards are actually saying. A few faves that have come home:

    “She uses planning skills effectively to create media texts for different purposes and audiences.”

    If anyone knows what that means, please fill me in.

    “He should explore a variety of conventions and techniques encountered in familiar media.”

    Ummmm, OK, we’ll get working on that one.

    “She demonstrates traveling in a variety of ways using different pathways with a considerable degree of skill.”

    Does that mean she can skip in one direction and then quickly gallop in another? Wow, I knew my kids were clever but this takes the cake. Clearly all of the money I’ve dumped into dance and gymnastics is really paying off.

    Her Bad Mother February 26, 2010 at 10:23 am

    This laugh was badly needed, Julie. Thank you.

    jaelithe February 25, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I think we all knew Emilia was going to be a Mossad agent before she ever got a report card.

    I mean, how else would she complete her elite training for total world domination?

    I wouldn’t worry too much about that girl. I just hope I can get my son a position in her cabinet.

    I did of course worry about my son’s first preschool report card, too. But when your kid is not quite neurotypical, it sorta changes your set of worries, I think. I was worried about things like “shows beginning social signs of autism.” But on the flip side, I also didn’t want to see “child is totally normal NOTHING TO SEE HERE we won’t provide services NO TREATMENT FOR YOU.”

    It’s weird to be simultaneously worried that your child do too poorly on an evaluation, and worried he might do too well.

    Her Bad Mother February 26, 2010 at 10:24 am

    True, true. I really shouldn’t be surprised. I suppose that I wasn’t, really.

    And yes, there are so many possible levels of worry, not least the one you mention, that some confirmations of worry you worry about NOT getting.

    Beth February 25, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    First of all, I’m a relatively new reader of your blog and I LOVE it. Just had to let you know. =)

    Regarding report cards… my son (almost 3) is in a Montessori Program and received his first report card in December — when he was just 2.5 years old! There were, kid you not, 40 items on it, including “cultural affairs” (seriously). I’m not a big crier but I CRIED when he received a “negative mark” in the “getting along with others” category. I seriously called the director in a PANIC and did not calm down until she told me that about 1/2 the kids had the same “bad grade”. It was just so upsetting to read… even though he really does have issues getting along with others, it was/is so hard to see it in black & white. Sigh. I’m also a HUGE WORRIER. I couldn’t agree more re: the joys — and anxieties — of parenting. It is truly overwhelming at times.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts in your wonderful blog. Knowing others feel like I do helps… a lot.
    .-= Beth´s last blog ..Field Trip: Bethesda’s new "Playseum" =) =-.

    katie February 26, 2010 at 1:10 am

    I try to focus on the ends not the means. A report card is simple the means to the ultimate end which is a responsible, carring, compassionate adult who I will always want a close, connected relationship with.

    Kristen February 26, 2010 at 1:36 am

    I adore your blog, though I think this may be my first time to comment . . . but I just have to delurk to tell you have much I relate to this. Except that I wouldn’t have waited to open the report card. I would have snuck into the bathroom and ripped it open before even going to my car, because that’s how neurotic I am. I am always, always worried that the teachers are going to notice some awful, antisocial trait that I’ve missed, that will lead to a life of pain and suffering. So yeah, bring on the Ativan, ’cause I’ve got four of these babies and a looong way to go.

    Chris February 26, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Oh Catherine….jump on the worry train. My oldest is 39 and my youngest is 26 and OMG…I still worry every-single-day! I don’t think it ever goes away.

    Love your writing. I wish I had this type of outlet when mine were babes or that I could write..whatever.
    Just don’t ever lose your sense of humor! Laughter does go a long way…

    Ginger February 26, 2010 at 4:55 am

    Well hell, I don’t think I had an anxiety disorder before kids but I certainly do now. I toss in some special needs and right now I am driven by the thought that if I don’t agressively treat my infant’s CP she will live a short and painful life, and if I do involve myself so heavily in focus on therapy I will ignore the needs of the older rather Emilia like nearly four year old who is wise beyond her years, two thirds the size of her peers, and bossy in a red-headed way. She needs me too! But what if I screw her up more? And back to the baby? Which kooky therapy has greater efficacy and less risk? I am stopping pumping milk so I can start up with the Xanax and not a moment too soon.

    Report cards?? They will be worse than the medical reports I get, won’t they? Because they are personal and integral to who the child is. Arrrgghhh! Should I homeschool to avoid this pitfall?
    .-= Ginger´s last blog ..Go go goggle =-.

    Adventures In Babywearing February 26, 2010 at 9:56 am

    You’re doomed. But it gets better. At least it will feel better. It starts to feel normal and personally I’m thankful I’m so anxious about it because I’ll never get complacent this way.

    .-= Adventures In Babywearing´s last blog ..lost boy found. =-.

    Linda February 26, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Report card from pre-school???? I never heard of such a thing and my kids are now young adults. But to answer your question: for me the anxiety got easier in that things become more routine but NEVER not anxiety provoking. People would say, “You have such great kids” to which I would reply, “yes but it could turn on a dime”. My criteria was to raise happy and stress-free children until they were teenagers. Teen years are a good time to stress as they are already stressed! I am sad for you to have to deal with evaluation of your four year old. FOUR! Adults have lost their minds. Linda

    Mary February 26, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Report cards are just one level of the Anxious. I have an ADHD/Bipolar kid who is bright but tests poorly…I HATE report cards. Loathe them. Even her teachers agree, her scores don’t reflect her capability. Even more than report cards I hate parent teacher conferences. Yes, I know A is overactive. Yes, I know A has poor impulse control. Yes, I know A is oppositional. You should have seen her when she was on medication and in therapy! I think my biggest anxiety is the fear of how I will be able to get my kids to the point where they can be turned loose in the world. When I realize THAT is the point of this whole parenting thing, I start to hyperventilate, a little tiny bit.
    .-= Mary´s last blog ..Endless Repeats =-.

    LD February 26, 2010 at 11:18 am

    At my son’s school they don’t do kindergarten report cards. And I like that.
    BUT, we do goal setting, following the exact same format that we set our career objectives at work. Which is a little crazy.
    We set social goals and learning goals. Part of me appreciates the process, the other part of me just feels that setting goals for kids in kindergarten is a little premature.
    And, as we look forward to grade 1, I can see Matt is just as stressed about it as I am. (we’re dealing with ADHD and ODD).
    I know worrying is a part of parenting, but when I see that this stress is passed on to my child, I’m not quite sure how to deal with it.
    .-= LD´s last blog ..What I Was Looking For =-.

    bea February 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Just wait until you hit grade one. There are LETTER GRADES on that report card. I was so not ready for that one.
    .-= bea´s last blog ..Good Writer, Bad Person =-.

    Neen February 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    “Emilia loves to collect data from her peers and explain to the class what this data represents”

    I assumed that this meant there had been conversations at school that went like this,

    “Miss Smith”,
    “Yes, Emelia”,
    “Kaylee says that they didn’t get to go to the park on Sunday like they were supposed to ’cause her Daddy went to visit with his friends on Saturday night and came home really, REEEAALLY late and yelled at her Mommy and fell down in the living room and when he woke up he didn’t feel good and had to go and get her Mommy some flowers and a present and so they didn’t get to go to the park.”
    “That’s nice, Emelia, has everyone finished colouring their snowmen?”

    Actually, the best way not to worry, is to have 2 sets of kids. My former youngest was 13 when his little sister was born (3 days before my oldest son’s 15th birthday), and she was 17 months old when I had my youngest. I tell my older boys that they were the practice kids, and I won’t mess up the little ones as badly.
    I worried as much as you when the boys were small, but I guess I’ve come to a place finally where I’ve realized that kids just arn’t that easy to screw up. I’ve learned through lots of practice to let go of it and just let them BE. I accept that these are their lives, and I can’t manage them for them. and I can’t take everything that happens personally, their mistakes belong to them, not me. (Yeah, that’s a tough one!)

    I mean, honestly, I’ve done a lovely job screwing up my own life, why would they let me mess in theirs?

    Karen February 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Well, I just signed a paper telling the public school system (ie the Government) that it was okay with me for them to evaluate my child psychologically & to explore our home as a potential source of problems. Even though, I’m pretty damn sure he is a bright kid with Sensory Processing Disorder, it was my wave to the possibility – very real apparently – that he is bi-polar. Come on in, public school, give me a report card too.
    Yikes, this shit is just too hard sometimes. But data collection and navigational skills are very helpful.
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Obsession II =-.

    Jessica February 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I am *exactly* like that. Give me a situation, I’ll give you 10 new ways to worry about it – I like to think of myself as prepared, though :)
    Neurotic? Who, me?
    .-= Jessica´s last blog ..It’s back. =-.

    D. February 26, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Holy hell, report cards are one worry that hadn’t even crossed my mind yet. Time to go brood about that one.

    Seriously, though, what IS an oral measurement tool?
    .-= D.´s last blog ..2010-A Year of Books =-.

    Mama Mary February 26, 2010 at 10:17 pm

    I so get this. In fact I just poured a glass of wine because I get this so much. Anxiety is my middle name. Pinot is my other middle name.
    .-= Mama Mary´s last blog ..how wayne brady and "the secret" conspired to make me a stay at home mom – part 1 =-.

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