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Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Report Card

Dawn in her new grey beret with pompom.

When raising children is your life's work, you do not often receive a performance review. Pay grades are not evaluated annually. There are no guarantees that the methods you use to introduce a spiritual and moral framework to your children will withstand the rigorous assault of peer pressure, social mores. When the children were little, I would go to the parent-teacher conferences with a sense that my child’s appraisal was a direct reflection on my efforts as a mother. It was easier to hear the areas than needed work than the hard-won accolades the children earned through their academic or creative endeavors. It was in the areas that they needed help that I found my calling. The fact that my children all worked hard, stayed out of trouble and worked toward goals that they set for themselves was evidence that something was working with what they received at home.
When high school ends, so too, do the report cards sent home to invested parents.
Professors deal directly with the students and there is little to no room for parents in the rarefied air of academia. I miss the objective appraisals that helped me see my child for who they were outside and apart from their relationship with me.
However, I discovered there are other, more tangible measures of the kind of children who I have helped raise to adulthood. The past couple of months have given me ample evidence of what kind of children I claim as mine.
~ When my middle daughter, Kay, needed her older sister, Hannah, she put down the reins of her life in D.C. to go to New York City to be at Kay’s side.
~When Kay and I ran out of gas on the Interstate, my son, Charles, and Hannah dropped everything on Thanksgiving to buy gas cans and fill them with gas. They rescued us within an hour of our call.
~When I was feeling rather blue today, Hannah and Charles found a gift for me. They recalled I wanted a beret and they gave me a grey one - complete with a pompom.
~When we were shopping at the Natick Mall yesterday, I grew tired and was ready to go wait in the car while Hannah and Kay continued their exploration. Kay and Hannah insisted I use a wheel chair. Kay pushed it, Hannah was our porter. It was at that moment I realized that I no longer need a report card to tell me whether my life’s work matters. It is in the way my children, Hannah, Kay and Charles, choose to live their lives that I can see my guidance has, perhaps, helped steer them toward a place where they can express their individuality while still being caring members of humanity.

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