Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Danger! Failing Grade Alert!

This title may be misleading, so not to panic: our only college student, my daughter, isn’t really failing any of her classes at IPFW. I did make the mistake of mentioning in an e-mail to the inlaws that she was “pulling B’s in most things”—which then prompted them, unbeknownst to me, to write her an e-mail chiding her for such a lukewarm accomplishment as “only” pulling B’s in college work when she was “an A student before.” Putting aside for a moment the fact that my daughter was her grade-school valedictorian (something that still amazes me), the plain fact of the matter is, of course, that as far as her dad and I are concerned, A’s are great, you ought to strive for them, but B’s don’t necessarily mean you’re slacking off, either. This is college work, not grade school, and we allow for that real difference. Even an occasional C isn’t cause for undue panic. Yes, we expect “above average” out of our kids—but neither of us was a straight-A achiever, so at least we have no unrealistic expectations of perfection out of anybody. Her dad and I are both also former music majors, and Jess is a pre-major in fine arts, so we know as well about such things as “subjectivity” in arts grading. Other family members are not so inclined; having never been in an arts program of any kind, they seem unable to comprehend the notion that simply “trying harder” and “concentrating better” doesn’t always equate to A’s in an artistic course of study. We merely shrug and go our own way, and at least my daughter was smart enough not to whip back a response when, as she put it, she “couldn’t think of any nice way to respond to that.” That alone may prove she has more smarts than most A students on campus. :-) All that being said, what I’m really thinking about this morning is a self-report card. When I sit back, take a breath, and evaluate how I’m doing so far on the things I wanted to improve this year…I’m not doing so hot. I wanted to get more sleep this year. Sometimes, I do. Most times, I don’t. The reasons are wide, varied, and sometimes even chemical…so they’re not always due to not “trying harder” or “concentrating more” on my part. I have noticed that I do actually get in bed earlier than I was before, so maybe that’s a step in the right direction. Even if I’m sitting up in bed awake at 10 or 10:30, reading (the best way to end the day) …or (heaven help me) finishing up e-mail or some other godawful thing to be doing at that time of night, at least being physically in my pajamas, in bed, beats being still in my jeans and gym shoes washing the kitchen floor. So I guess progress is progress. But I’m still dead tired much of the time, so obviously, I still need a lot of work on that resolution. Overall grade: C-. I wanted to get more of my own writing done, and sold, this year. “Selling” I know I can’t control, but getting the writing and pitching done…ach. I’m the original synopsis/pitch queen, but every time I think about doing it lately, I nearly go into overwhelm. Overwhelm is not a place from which one pitches well, unfortunately. Once again, the reasons I’ve written precious little are wide, varied, and sometimes even chemical (!)—and they do go hand in hand with not getting enough sleep/rest, since sleep deprivation also diminishes creativity. Unfortunately, the more pressing concerns of cash flow have dictated what times I spend both creating my own worlds and resting from them; this will, with any blessings at all, be a temporary situation soon relieved. Overall grade on that: D. Barely passing, hoping for better things. And a third thing I really, really need to do—resolve to do every year—but never quite seem to get a handle on is keeping up contact with friends and family. Yanno, sending the birthday cards, the anniversary cards, the thank-you notes, the letters…all that. It’s not that I don’t think about them; I do. I just don’t follow through the way I’ve always wanted to; it just never seems to get done. The reasons for this are also wide and varied, and although less chemical (!), are certainly hereditary. I grew up in an anti-social household. My mother wanted to be involved in family things; my father kept us all under his thumb, and instilled in us a paranoia about others that is still difficult to shake. So while I really love having my friends and family, and I find myself thinking, “Gosh, I need to get together with these people more often,” it hardly ever happens that way. Three people I meant to send cards to already, I’ve failed to send to. I should have. Every year, I make up my mind to do it…and every year, I’m either short of cash or I neglect it for some other reason. With the start of this new quarter, of course, I can redeem myself, send some belated cards, write some letters…if I can pull together the time or energy or both. The only thing I then have to battle is the nagging voice in my head saying, “Hey, if you didn’t start out the year doing it, don’t bother now, it’s too late.” (Can you spell perfectionist?) It remains to be seen whether I’ll be comfy forgiving myself for failing so thoroughly so far this year, and just pick up and pretend that this is how Janny is going to be from now on. (!) (I have actually managed to do some of this kind of thing, just not the number and frequency of contacts I feel I “should” have to be a better daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, parent…you get the idea.) For now, my grade in this is a D-. Hanging on by my nonexistent fingernails. There are some positives I’ve been able to swing this year, as well, though. It’s just that for the moment—probably due to spring fever!—most of what I’m seeing is the need to play catch-up. But never fear. Next post, I’ll talk about some of the things I may be “forced” to give myself an A in…or at least a B. That’ll be way more fun. :-) Valedictorian, I ain’t. But the year is young, there’s time…right? Thoughts? Janny


Deb said...

Now, in the realm of friend-support & encouraging: A.

Being there, sacrificially, for those you hang with: A.

Giving of tough-love: A.

Your GPA is trending upwards as we speak.


Donna Alice said...

I'm still trying to finish up a Christmas gift from LAST year that I started LAST August, so I'm not going to grade anyone else's efforts! :)

Am I going to finish---you bet I am--hopefully before May which is my friend's birthday.

Still trying to finish up my FEBO goals to get my darned WIP in one file and DONE. My take is as long as you're trying, you'll get where you need to be eventually. But, then, I'm an avid homeschooler/unschooler so I've never gone much by report cards as a grading system.

So I'm probably not any help! But, I have loved and been inspired by your blog---so give yourself an A+ in that!

Janny said...

Thank you both for your generosity in grading. (!) Should I ever take a class with either of you, I'll know what to expect...