Why I’m Proud of my Child’s D
As my husband and I were sitting at an appointment, I received the alert announcing “report cards are now available.” I immediately turned to him and said, “should I even look?” His (pragmatic as always) response was, “What’s really the point? We already know how they did.”
I looked anyway, and then at the bottom of a sea of A’s and B’s was a lonely “D.” While most parents would dread this and would be upset at a low grade, I was elated. “They did it! They got a D!” I exclaimed. Anyone walking past probably thought I was crazy. The reality is that my child earned this D, and this D doesn’t represent who they are.
What this D doesn’t show is that here is a kid who never got their 6th grade graduation, or an opportunity to say goodbye to the teachers and kids they had known since kindergarten. A kid whose first day of middle school was online. A kid who only spent three weeks on campus in the first semester of school: first due to the school being shut down, and then due to being sick and being forced medically to miss weeks of school while they figured out a mysterious illness… and then COVID school shutdown round two.
What this D doesn’t show is a kid who had to navigate changing friendships during what I know as a child and adolescent therapist to be the most important period to learn to have and develop healthy peer relationships… all during a global pandemic that tested the best of us.
It also doesn’t show the kid who was navigating online school with two siblings and two working parents, all at home. A kid who survived internet crashes, failed uploads, and the never ending “you’re on mute.” Outside activities were cut, hanging out with friends was almost nonexistent, and visits to family were null. There was no annual holiday party (our family’s famous “Cookie Party”), no fall concert, and all performances and competitions were canceled.
I’ve heard it said that this past school year our children lost so much – but in reality, my kid earned a D in sea of A’s and B’s and I’m proud. Why? Because what this D represents is HOURS spent trying to master their hardest subject with almost no in-class context. What it represents is a kid who figured out how to do their best and put their best effort forward in three in half months of being in-person at school. A kid who stepped up to the plate to help a younger sibling navigate online school while both essential worker parents had to return to work before school opened. A kid whose classroom was often the break room in a busy office, small personal space in a full house, or even the car. This D represents a kid who was determined to do their best despite ALL the challenges they faced this year. Never once did we hear “its not fair,” or “I wish things were different.” My kid rolled it with and focused on what they could do.
So yes, I am proud of my child’s D because I believe in rewarding the effort. The school year was challenging, but my kid gave it all the effort they could. I know that next year we will be back to our “normal.” There will be hangouts with friends, performances, and after school activities – the whole shebang. I think that what we will look back on from this past school year is what we gained, not what we lost.
We gained the ability to embrace flexible thinking, we gained the ability to create meaningful friendships and we gained the understanding of how important our values are. We gained family time that, if the world had not been put on pause, we may not have been able to have. We gained tenacity and grit. We gained the confidence that when we put our mind to it, we are able to succeed. We gained acceptance of being perfectly imperfect.
We gained a D in the sea of A’s and B’s, and what my kid accomplished in earning that D is so much more than what that D represents in a grade book. And that’s why I’m damn proud of my child’s D.