A Tale of Two Report Cards

School, it is over. Well, almost over. It will be over as soon as I head over to the school this morning and chaperone one (1) kindergarten celebration and one (1) lunchtime pizza party. THEN school is officially over.

When the kids return home with their backpacks full of the desk detritus of the past nine months, I plan on taking their lunch boxes into the back yard and reenacting that one printer scene from Office Space. I am DELIGHTED to no longer have to stuff the same (mediocrely-received) granola bars, cheese sticks and cream cheese bagels into lunch boxes that probably should have had a really good scrubbing sometime around spring break.

With the school year wrapped up, I now officially have a fourth grader, a first grader and a preschooler.

This picture belies all of the fighting over Lego pieces that is about to occur this summer.

Coonskin cap because: LAST DAY! Also, I think it’s pretty evident from this picture that Millie is going to be that one friend in college, the one who always knows where the really good parties are.

Henry had a great year at school. He is an enthusiastic learner and you could almost see his brain growing exponentially as he learned more difficult mathematics, wrote more complicated stories and started reading books with barely any pictures in them. His teacher bemusedly explained that sometime in May, Henry politely grilled her about what eras of history they would be covering for the rest of the term. He was eager to know what he had to look forward to. Outside of some complex social issues (that seem to dramatically increase around this age), Henry thoroughly enjoyed third grade.

Juxtapose Henry’s eagerness to learn about Roman history and requests for additional multiplication worksheets against Charlie’s look of utter devastation when he learns that, “Yes, son, today is a school day.” Imagine his absolute dejection as he, literally, drags his feet towards his backpack.

Charlie is not a fan of formal education.

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Contrary to our hopes, Charlie’s attitude about schooling hasn’t changed much since his pre-k days. He struggled this year to learn the big concepts that kindergarten reinforces and introduces. Reading and writing and vocabulary and telling time and counting money – all of these things took work for him this past year. Work he only grudgingly agreed to do. Charlie would much rather be home, surrounded by his favorite things, playing outside in his favorite places, riding around on his favorite Gator. He completed his school work mostly because he HAD to, not because he WANTED to or had any INTEREST in it.

It’s not a behavior thing for Charlie. He adjusted well at the beginning of the year and seems to get along swimmingly with everyone. It’s just an effort thing. He simply would rather be doing something else entirely.

Since I like to fret about all of the wrong things, I was quick to assume Charlie’s kindergarten performance meant he would be living in our basement well into adulthood. Bob, non-fretter, kind of rolled his eyes in my general direction and stressed repeatedly, “It’s… KINDERGARTEN.” Which, he’s totally right, of course. It’s just kindergarten. But, I wouldn’t be a modern parent if I didn’t place in an inordinate amount of importance on what happens to Charlie when he’s six as a precursor for future success.

Charlie seemed to get with the program towards the end of the last quarter of the school year. He still complained bitterly about having to go to school but his final tests showed marked improvement and effort. Like, he was legitimately trying.

He’s going to have to legitimately try throughout the summer, too. We’re running a bit of a Center For Kids Who Can’t Read Good around here. We want to keep the skills he’s acquired sharp through a little summer school. We haven’t told him that yet though, so keep it hush-hush for now.

We also haven’t explained to him that in about ten weeks from now, his half-day of kindergarten turns into a full day of first grade. I anticipate Charlie will have some thoughts about that as well.

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