I Punished My Kid for His Silver Honor Roll Report Card

IMG_4032The day Boy Wonder came home from school with his second trimester report card, he was quick to tell me that he made the silver honor roll.

“That’s awesome, kiddo! I’m so proud of you! Let’s see what you got.” I said, eagerly opening the clasped envelope with care.

“A, B, A-, B-, B … ” and then, like a blemish on an otherwise beautiful report card, there it was … a C in math.

And with that perfectly average C, Boy Wonder lost two days of beloved game time. I suppose you could say that I punished my kid for bringing home a silver honor roll report card.

“That’s not fair!” Boy Wonder shouted, “Most kids get rewarded for a report card this good and here you are punishing me!” he lamented with tears in his soft brown eyes.

“I know this feels like a punishment, but it’s more of a statement in — ” and before I could finish, he interrupted. “Punishment. It’s a statement in punishment, Mom.”

Allow me to explain.

Boy Wonder and math have been entangled in some sort of passive-aggressive routine since the start of the school year. It’s not that he’s always housed a disdain for the logic or reasoning of numbers; in fact for years teachers have been telling us that he’s something of a math whiz. Able to perform challenging equations rather easily in his head, he became lazy in math. Eventually, careless mistakes paired with utter indifference (I’m supposed to bring my math book HOME?!) began to cost him his grade. We watched his math grade slip from an A to a D and finally back up to a C that semester, and not because he wanted to do better. That C in all its average glory was the direct result of my constant prodding and mandated 11th hour cram sessions. And the arguments, you guys. “I just don’t like math!” he’d shout, listing every possible reason math wouldn’t matter in his future career as a historian. “All I need to know is basic math stuff and I can do all that on a calculator. This math is stupid so who cares!” We care. We care because life is filled with lessons we doubt we’ll ever need or use, but understand that the exercise of learning is never wasted. We care because sometimes we have to do what needs doing for no other reason than because it’s part of the job. But most of all, we care because we know he is capable.

In an effort to grab his attention, I warned him that if he brought home anything less than a B- in math on his next report card on account of personal laziness, I’d be forced to take away game time. Unfortunately, none of that seemed to matter as he continued to dig in his heels, leading the math resistance with more tenacity than ever before.

While it’s true that the sum of his silver honor roll report card was worthy of congratulations, I felt compelled to temper his pat on the back with making good on my promise. If I believed for a moment that a C was best Boy Wonder could do, you better believe that C would have been hailed as a testament to the value of determination and hard work. But it wasn’t. That C was simply the best he chose to do.

What do you think? Did I make a bad parenting call?

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