Back to School Goals: Aim Lower

by Christie Perkins

I’m you’re classical textbook mom. I always encourage my kids to do their best. It’s okay if they aren’t number one, it’s okay if they miss spelling words, it’s okay to mess up every once in a while as long as they do their best unless, of course, it comes to chores then I acclimate to” Rewind and Repeat Mom”.

But, for the most part, life’s little stabs of imperfection are cushioned by smiles and circular back rubs.

So, here comes another school year where we encourage, prod, and nod perfect efforts regardless of perfect scores. It’s the effort that matters, right?

Mom school teaches us this mentality to pass onto our children. It’s all good.

But, I’m taking a little different approach this year.


Back to School

This year I walked away from back to school night with dread. Ugh. The projection of busy bodies, homework, deep fried brains, and a shake of multiple schedules haunt me. Don’t get me wrong. I love school and the learning and stretching process of it all (for a girl who loves to read textbooks I’m buddy-buddy with learning). We beef up schedules and cut back cash. Energy and pocketbooks empty fast.

But you see, I was inspired yesterday as I was filling out paper work for middle school. It jolted me. I scanned a list of fees for school. Here were the ones that pertained to me:
textbook fee $35 (all students). I’ve never actually seen the textbook we pay for, I think it must be a high tech invisible book or something.
activity fee $15 (all students). Is this a jump start to “brain activity” fee because I don’t recall any social activities? And if there are activities they make them pay…so, um????
yearbook $26. Memories. You should see my lion mane hair and matching crooked teeth and bow on my shirt from middle school. Yipes. Precious moment. I use it as a learning tool of what not to do. In the future my kids will need their yearbooks for teaching moments too, I’ll gladly pay this fee. (Thankfully, my kids don’t recognize my picture as being me… that’s a really good sign.)
band shirt $16. Now, I’m a tight wad. School shopping consists of clearance racks and sale prices. So, this is steep for me. But, there’s hope as I can ditch this price this year because we already have one that fits-ish from the last couple of years. Thanks to the small runt-of-the-pack gene defect. Blessings right?
P.E. Shirt $4. Luck would have it that his shirt from last year is in mint condition except the sweat rings. Meh. But really, what 8th grade boy wants to wear a kitty shirt with their name plastered across the front outside of the locker room? Gasp.

…Blah, blah, blah, the list trickled down the entire sheet of paper right down to the very last item on the list: Honor Society.

Now, I don’t know about you but usually good behavior is rewarded. Usually. But the little price tag next to Honor Society jolted me.

Eight bucks? Really. I have to pay $8 for you to get good grades? Ding. (“Ding,” not as in doorbell but as scratch and dent.) Now, I do pay my child a little for his grades. A little. You know how the reward thing works. Reward them for their good efforts, smile, and rub their back. I’m good with that but paying the school for my child’s good grades: that’s messed up. Do I have to claim it?

I frown. And rub my head.

And then the inspiration came. I can see $8 just walking back to my pocket. It’s going to be a good year. Oh an incredibly great year. It’s time for a sit down talk with my boys. So, I’ve already interviewed my Honor Society child about the specifics for Honor Society: the magical line is a 3.7 grade point average.

This year they must aim a little lower, for a 3.6. I’ll tell them it’s okay to get a 3.6. I’ll smile and rub their back and tell them that we learn most by mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes- they need to make a few more.

And they will be happy. And I will be happy. More shirking of homework. More smirking about free time.

Ah. The burden lifts. Happy back to school loaded with new goals.

*Disclaimer: I really won’t do this but I want to. Just had to get it out of my system. And if I see you and you ask how my kids are doing I’ll avoid the subject and not mention anything above a 3.6 in case you require $8 for my kids good grades too.


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