Back in the day, my mom went to every single parent-teacher conference. I think she went more for herself than anything. She would return with the relief that her kids were actually ok. On the home front, that fact was often challenged, to say the least. I am understanding her feelings more fully now. Today I went to the last parent-teacher conference with Ethan’s wonderful preschool teachers. It’s interesting how dynamics can differ for kids when it is parents versus others. For instance, when trying to write at home, Ethan almost always asks, “What’s next, Mommy?” while I try to encourage him to sound it out on his own. Apparently at school, he almost always wants to try to sound it out on his own independently even when the teacher offers to help.
I was grateful to hear the teachers’ report on Ethan. We had Ethan tested for selective enrollment schools earlier in the academic year. Mike and I were disappointed that he didn’t test into anywhere. It made me realize how much I valued intelligence. I couldn’t care less that Ethan isn’t athletic and will sit down at soccer instead of play goalie properly or that his artwork indicates he is no Michaelangelo. But, I have to admit that it was a blow to the ego when we got his scores back. It was a good lesson on humility, trusting his academic future in God’s hands, and not finding our identity in anything less significant than Him. The beastly side of me would reason that there was something wrong with the 15 minute test and that it was all a crap-shoot. As true as it is, I would try to overemphasize that having no other options made the decision about kindergarten easier and that there is a higher purpose in keeping him at his current neighborhood school. Ultimately, I sincerely do believe he will be fine wherever he is, and it’s not just about being at “Harvard” but about building a diverse community and serving it.
All that said, it did my soul good to hear that Ethan scored 100% on their kindergarten readiness testing, that the teachers were surprised he didn’t test into anywhere, and that he stood out to them from the beginning. They said that when asking him test questions they saw in him both the “why are you asking me these stupid questions?!” as well as what they considered “flexible thinking” that would allow for answers that the test wasn’t looking for but made total sense when he explained it to them. In other words, he thinks outside the box which may not test well but shows a high level of thinking that was perhaps even more valuable. Can you just throw a martini on all that info and call it a day? I hate to admit it, but I LOVED hearing that even after all my humble conclusions to the previous testing results. I even recognize the insecurities in place that make me want to share this report here.
Do I need Ethan to be the smartest? No. Do I need my children to excel in academics (or athletics or creativity or fill-in-the-blank) to feel good about myself (as a parent or person)? No. I don’t need my children to be anything but reflections of God’s creative beauty, simply by their mere existence (even when that beauty throws up all over my couch this morning). However, I will savor the moments when they do also reflect His wisdom, His compassion, & His nature at its best. There is plenty of savoring His sense of humor, that’s for sure.