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Friday, May 15, 2015

Grading the Mommy

Photo by amboo who?
Last week an outraged mother posted on Facebook a picture of the Mother’s Day present that came home from school with her child: a report card grading her performance as Mom. It’s gone outraged-ly viral.
I do have to wonder what that teacher was thinking when she came up with that gift idea. Maybe she was considering what a teacher friend of mine mentioned last year after Mother’s Day: “Every year I go to a lot of trouble to come up with creative and thoughtful crafts for my students to make for their parents on Mother’s and Father’s Days. And I never, ever hear a word back from any of them.”
Yeah, my guilt-meter hit about 175% when she told me that. Because I’d never taken the time to thank any of my kids’ teachers, the real driving force behind geraniums in adorably hand-painted “I LOVE MONNY” pots on mothers’ kitchen windowsills. (The kid meant “MOMMY”. Not “MONEY.” I’m pretty sure. Okay, it’s a toss-up.)
Well, this year the Mommy-Grade-Card teacher heard about it.
Peace, people. Everybody makes a bad judgment call once in a while. Like the time the pimply-faced sixteen-year-old girl checking my groceries commented on the 80’s music playing over the store’s PA system. I said, “This stuff’s from my high school days.” She looked at me, shrugged, and said, “You don’t look that bad.”
I sincerely hope I’m around the first time somebody calls her “Ma’am.”
But reading about the offended mom’s angst made me wonder how my kids might grade me. So I asked them.
I handed my seven-year-old the grade card first. “Fill this out for Mommy.”
“It’s a grade card. You get to tell me how I’m doing as a Mommy.”
She stomped her little foot and threw her head back with a growl. “I don’t want more homework! I finished my homework already!”
“This is fun,” I insisted. “Look. Circle A, B, C, D, or F for each statement.”
“Do I have to?” she whined.
“Circle the grades!”
She sat down, drew hasty rings around a bunch of letters, and handed it back to me. “There. Can I go watch TV now?”
“Why did you give me a C for ‘My mom is patient and understanding’?” I asked.
“Just because.”
“Well, why? Tell me. Tell me right now! When I am anything but patient and understanding?!?”
“Fine! I’ll change it to A. Can I go now?!?”
‘A’ for being patient and understanding.
The nine-year-old did the grade card next. Her face blossomed into an enormous smile as she reached for her pencil.
‘A’ for being a kind and loving, patient and understanding mother. “Dad is the yelling one, not Mom,” she explained. Hmm. Maybe we’ll hand out GRADING THE DADDY cards next.
‘B’ for my cooking. That’s better than fair. Our smoke detector goes off a lot more often than it should.
‘C’ for keeping the house clean. A little ire bled into my hackles till I read her comment. She explained that her two siblings made it impossible to keep a house clean. True, that. And don’t let yourself off the hook so easily either, sister. The Everest-sized mound of paper snips piled on the table after your last snowflake-making marathon? Yours. The clothes you never fail to leave on the bathroom floor after a shower? Your size. The bucket of perler beads you knocked off your desk and decided was too much trouble to pick up? All you, babe.
The eleven-year-old really got into this assignment. He assigned points and percentages to his grade assessments. I scored 668 out of 700 by his estimation. Where am I slacking?
86% for being patient and understanding. “You yell sometimes but are great other times.”
Yell? I don’t yell. That’s Dad. I enhance my voice for emphasis.
99% for my cooking. I’d glow a little about that, but the boy thinks chicken nuggets doused with Texas Pete’s Hot Sauce represent the pinnacle of haute cuisine.
My biggest deficit, according to my son, relates to me teaching him important and useful things. I rated only 85% there. That's just because he doesn’t like so many of the things I teach him. For example, it is not a truthful statement that if your undershorts have been worn only once, they are clean. Nor is it acceptable to claim that because you did not take them off for a week, they have been worn only once.
I could probably be offended by some of my kids’ evaluations of me. Heck, I’m sure I could be offended by a lot of people’s evaluations of me. I’m not awesome at very much, and I mess up a lot, but I’m doing the best I can.
Just like that teacher who handed out the ill-advised Mother’s Day grade card. I’m going to give her a break. And I’m going to give Outraged-Mom a break. And I’m going to give myself a break.
Because, really. Why do we take this stuff so seriously?
Now go write your kids’ teachers a thank-you note.
I’m signing mine, “Love, Monny”.

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  1. The thank you card you get when they're 25 is WAY more valuable. Hang on, sister, it cometh!! Until then, know you are doing a fabulous job and it shows!! XO

  2. Thanks, Shelley! I'm looking forward to the GRADE CARD I get when they're 25. Or better yet, when they have their own kids. I'm just going to sit back and smile...