My 7th grade English teacher called my name. My heart was pounding as I made my way to the front of the class to speak with him. He slid a yellow paper across the desk toward me. It included my mid-term grade, and I had to return it the next day with my parents signature.
I heard him repeat the part about the signature, but all I could focus on was the letter grade written in black marker to the right of my name.
Tonight I reflected back on that English class as I walked up the stairs to apologize to my son. One might assume that after raising children for ten years, I’d have the whole “proper level of reaction” thing down pat.
Yet, I still struggle with it.
When Kai climbed on a chair to grab Kim’s iPhone before dropping it, I lost it. The phone was OK, but my reaction to the situation was embarrassing. Making matters worse was the fact that Kai wouldn’t hand me the phone, I got upset to the point that my daughter left the room. If my performance as a father were being graded tonight, a D would be generously high.
The kids shuffled upstairs to get ready for bed and I ended up back on my computer wondering why something so small upset me so much. And then I realized that had I been watching Kai more carefully he probably would not have gone looking for Kim’s phone.
I helped Kai into his pajamas and sat on the bed next to him. He grabbed Goldilocks and the Three Bears off the shelf, thrust it towards me and said, “Read. Me. Daddy”. His eyes were still red from the tears I’d caused earlier. But he seemed ready to forgive me. The other kids joined us on the bed for the story they’ve heard so many times that both the front and back cover of the book are missing.
When I finished the book, I picked up Kai and hugged him and told him I was sorry. I wondered what must be going through the mind of a mischievous 3-year old boy. He hugged me back and kissed my cheek. By the time I turned off his light, I felt a little better.
My parents weren’t thrilled with my mid-term grade. But it was a wake-up call, and I had enough time to get my act together and pull B grade from the class by the end of the quarter.
I’m hoping for the same type of improvement as a father.