Friday, November 29, 2013

Measuring sticks

Early this week, my husband and I attended parent-teacher conferences for our sons.  It's always an interesting experience.  Your child's strengths and weaknesses, the hidden world they occupy each day at school suddenly opens for you, and you get a totally different perspective on your child's development.

For our eldest, this conference marks the last one of elementary school.  Next year, he will attend middle school, where parents are no longer encouraged to take part directly.  Sitting down with his teacher, we heard about a very different boy than we have been dealing with. His teacher told us that he's mature, cheerful, responsible, and engaged.  It was a glowing report.  My husband and I were stunned, but happy.  At home, our son has been struggling. he's cranky, frustrated, and constantly testing boundaries. He throws fits, yells, and generally makes us crazy.

The next day, while playing with his little brother, the little guy threw up.  My eldest, not only got him to the bathroom, started him cleaning himself up, and came to get me. While I was dealing with figuring out why the little one got sick, The big guy, started cleaning up the carpet.  I was shocked and proud.  He took responsibility, helped out, and did it without fuss or demanding accolades.

Standardized measurements like grades and inches are great for some things, but it they really can't show us how mature a child is becoming in the face of everyday trials.  To judge maturity, we have to use relative measures, those that are useful only within he circumstances which we are in.  Only by putting things in perspective, can we see what's really happening.

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