Grades Are Meaningless

Hope and despair are opposite sides of the same coin.

Hope and despair are opposite sides of the same coin.

Sometimes the sins of the father are visited upon the son and though we would change it we cannot because we cannot make a person feel or unfeel.

We can only try to help them see a different way of viewing the world.


It took a long time for me to be able to look in the mirror and say “you lost the house.”

Ask me to tell you the tale and I’ll tell you about how I lost my job and the house we lived in for ten years became a casualty of unemployment.

Tell me how it is not my fault and explain how I was one of millions of people who got hammered during the Great Recession and I’ll nod my head and agree.

But I’ll tell you I lost the house and bear the cross that comes with it.

I’ll tell you it is my fault that my children had to be pulled out of the private school they loved and that my family was uprooted because I couldn’t stop it.

You won’t hear the stories about how successful I was before then and how I recouped our down payment in six months because those are meaningless.

They are true tales. I was a high flyer and I made buckets of money and though I invested carefully and took care of my cash it didn’t matter because when the money stopped coming from salary it had to come from somewhere else.

Eventually we hit the low water mark where I couldn’t see a way to stop the bank from coming so we sold the damn thing and moved on.

I don’t second guess that move. It was smart and it was the right thing to do.

But if I told you I have wondered about a million other things, like why I couldn’t get real work it would be because I did and I have.

Because it seemed like such a simple thing and yet it didn’t happen and even though I know others who went through it I don’t pay attention because my nature is to ask myself what else I could have done.

The Sins Of The Father

Every week the middle school my son attends sends an email with an update on his grades. It covers each of his classes but I pay minimal attention to it.

Some of it is because I don’t see grades as a significant marker of a person’s ability in school or in life and some of it is because I trust my son.

His grades are steady and always have been.

I know his strengths and his weaknesses.

The weekly notice is just a way to make sure that things are progressing as they should be. Even though I roll my eyes at grades you have to play the game and he needs them to get into college.

Last week the note came and showed he had a mark we have never seen before. It also showed that three assignments hadn’t been entered into the grade book.

I didn’t freak about it. The point value of the three assignments was the anchor that dragged that grade below the surface and since I knew the assignments had been turned in I figured it would be a simple solution.

All he needed to do was talk to his teacher about those assignments and ask if they had been entered. I figured at least two of them had probably come from an excused absence and that once we had that sorted out it would be fixed.


Except my son didn’t see it that way.

It freaked and flipped him out a little bit.

I told him we weren’t worried about it, explained that his mom and I know what kind of student he is and that there wasn’t a reason to be upset.

He didn’t want to hear it so I asked him if he had failed any or all of the missing assignments and he said no.

So I reminded him that until they were entered the grade book didn’t reflect his real grade. Reminded him that until the end of the semester arrives the current grade didn’t matter either.

But the sins of the father are visited upon the son and he insisted on taking responsibility for his actions.

Grades Are Meaningless

I have told him more than once that I think grades are meaningless. I have shared stories of people I know that were the high achievers in school that did nothing afterwards and the ‘C’ students that did exceptionally well.

He knows I want the higher grades because of college and because he is capable. He knows I want him to push himself because it will benefit him but he also knows I am sincere about my belief.

I don’t care what he gets as long as he tries his best.

None of this helped him fall asleep and instead he lay in bed at midnight reading a book and trying not to worry.

I did my best to ease his mind and then I left him to find his peace of mind because that is part of a parent’s job.

We give our kids the tools to succeed and then we let them figure it out. Doesn’t mean we aren’t around or don’t try to help however we can, but this is one thing I can’t do for him.

But I would be lying if I said I wish he wasn’t like me in this respect. If things go as I hope he’ll come home and tell me the grades were entered and all is in balance for now.

Sometimes this parenting thing is hard.

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  1. Larry January 26, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Taking responsibility for one’s action is not a bad trait to have. Sure, some things are beyond our control. However, to strive to make the best of each situation and feel we can make a difference is a good thing.

    • The JackB January 27, 2015 at 8:39 am

      @Lardavbern:disqus I am glad he takes responsibility, it is learning to distinguish what can be controlled and what can’t. Sometimes you have to just let go and roll with what is beyond our control. It is not always easy.

  2. Debbie McCormick January 26, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Totally agree. Our school systems are completely missing the mark and our kids are labeled with test scores. This is the very reason I pulled them out and am home schooling them.

  3. Janine Huldie January 26, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Aww, I felt for your son reading this as I was also a lot like your son with grades when I was younger and I can see my older daughter being this way, as well. My younger is more laid back, but like you I am not stressing so much as the grades, as much as I know what my kids are capable of. By the way, I think you are great dad and definitely think your son is lucky to have you as a role model.

    • The JackB January 27, 2015 at 8:40 am

      @JanineHuldie:disqus Thank you, I appreciate the compliment. My focus is trying to make sure the kids learn how to be independent and productive members of society so sometimes I like to look at things and figure out if that is happening.

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