C Stands for 'Can Do Better'

Lucy made a 79 on a book report. A BOOK REPORT. A book report where she mainly just had to decorate a pumpkin like a character in the book (a picture book, at that). She made a C on an arts and crafts project about a book. This from the child whose past-times are reading, writing and drawing/gluing/decorating. When we brought it up, she was not worried about the grade. She did her best, she said. Jason and I tried to be loving and supportive, restrained and encouraging. But what's the right way to say, "That wasn't your best, kid. We know how smart you are. And we want to see an effort that reflects your intelligence." Well, I don't know the right way, but that's pretty much exactly what we said.

I was more proud of the things I didn't say:

  • "This will go on your permanent record."
  • "We don't make B's, let alone C's in this house. Unless you count some lesser academic moments by both your parents. But we are notorious underachievers. You are better than that."
  • "You'll never get into a decent middle school with grades like that."
  • "Think about your future."
  • "We may be underfunding your 529 slightly and are counting on at least a partial scholarship. Pick up the grades or pick up some golf clubs."

This conversation caused much gnashing of teeth and dramatic wailing. At one point, she blamed me for her bad grade (which she finally gave up defending as good) because I bought her an ugly pumpkin. She seemed unconcerned about the grade, but offended by our conversation.

I don't want to pressure her. Except I do. But I can't make her care as much as we do.