Ferdinand and I walked to school at 8:30 this morning.Â He had 3 full bags of the required school supplies, his backpack with still more school supplies, his lunch, and an 9 x 11 envelope stuffed with all the writing that he had done over the summer.Â He didn’t know who his teacher was going to be and had no clue who was going to be in his classroom.Â All the kids in each grade are divided into two classrooms, and all of his friends that he had asked, were in the other room.Â Except one, but she was away and wouldn’t be back for another week.Â When we got to the edge of the building Ferd said, “Mom, do you think I’m going to get good grades?”Â I said, “absolutely.”Â He said, “do you think I’m going to get A’s for the year?”Â I said, “I think you can get A’s.”Â “How do you do it” he said?Â I said, “bit by bit.”
When I got home, I thought, “am I crazy”?Â Why am I teaching him how to get A’s?Â Why didn’t I say, “you’re really worried about getting good grades.”Â I just read how to say that in my book on how to listen to your kids–I have studied that–I should know that.
The truth is, I know why; my own dependency on grades is enormous.Â If I make pasta with spinach and mushrooms, I don’t want to hear “this reminds me so much of Fall, or that spinach is so tender and fresh.”Â I want, “that was great.”Â Or even better, “on a scale of 1 to 10 that was a 10 and a half.”Â I’m a junkie.Â And now (adulthood) is the tricky bit.Â What if there is no one around to give a grade or what if you decide for yourself that based on prior experience, that a whopping D minus is the best you are going to ever do on pasta with spinach with mushrooms, so you forget about it all together?Â It is soooo easy to get so caught up in the level of success that you forget about the value of the work itself.Â I know grades make the whole system easier because then everybody knows where everybody fits.Â But if what if we didn’t?Â Don’t ask me, I’m a junkie, but I think for normal people, which hopefully still includes my son, it’s critical to think about.Â Can you imagine learning how to saute a clove of uncut garlic in the most beautiful olive oil you can find–only to please your nose and to never allow the garlic to burn, because the taste is so much more pleasurable.Â A pepperoncino added to the oil will not add points to the flavor, but will add sass to the flavor–like what a pair of ruby red shoes do to a black dress.Â The spinach cooked over a medium flame in a wide pan, has nothing to do with a higher grade, just an element of control, to give the spinach a sauteed flavor, instead of a steam table flavor.
If you are worried about are you going to get an A, or are you not, the panic can paralyze you–even if you have a doctorate in 2nd grade math or spinach. Concentrating on the knowledge and where the knowledge takes you, is a whole other kind of learning.
I’m way better at snacks:
Cut up a frozen banana.Â Put it in the food processor with a ripe peach, a good spoonful of plain yogurt, and a tiny spill of orange juice.