Tuesday, 3 July 2012

My son's school report made me cry

I’m sure it something my parents did a lot when I was a child – and probably a few times since – spent a fair amount of time weeping at what someone else had written about their son.

‘He doesn’t pay attention.’

‘He does the absolute minimum that is asked of him.’

‘There will come a point he’ll realise it is all too late.’

‘Measuring drool production quantities over Martine McCutcheon, Britney Spears et al is not an appropriate experimentation for his biology A-level project’

I can visualise them talking to me now, I have absolutely no idea what they were saying – you’d need to have paid attention or something – but I imagine it was along the lines of disappointment, frustration and needing to pull socks up.

It’s probably only right that I can expect to feel similar about my son’s progress at school.

But, as yet, he’s made me emotional for quite the opposite reasons.

Well, not quite opposite.

On Sunday afternoon, when I got round to emptying his school bag, I found his school report.

We were sat playing inside, as it was miserable outside, lounging on bean bags, flitting between flying helicopters, laser-tag and playing on our Nintendo Wii.

Max was actually deep in thought playing Lego Batman 2 on the Wii, when, at his side, I tucked into his school report.

A two-page document, three if you count the results/level attainment record, so it took me a little while to read.

His teacher had clearly taken a good deal of time to write it, on all his aptitudes she was spot on, and it was clear I was reading something personal to my child rather than a best-fit-cut-and-paste-from-a-library-of-educational-clichés style document.

When I stopped reading, I was silent and sobbing a little.

I guess as a child, a parent acting this way upon reading your school report, would be a little unnerving.  Perhaps naturally leading you to think that I was sad, and he was in trouble.

“You okay Dad?”  Max nervously asked.

I couldn’t even muster an answer.

“Is my report okay?” He tried.

Still nothing from me.

His teacher, whilst noting that he still has academic work to do if he wants to achieve higher than expected standards, wrote in real glowing terms.

On the effort and enthusiasm he brings to school.

On his confidence and intelligent questioning.

On his thoughtfulness and support of others.

About his thirst for learning new things and understanding how things work.

On how polite and reliable he is.

On how he is loved by not just his classmates, but by the school’s staff too.

Not sure which particular bit had me blubbering, but I think I may again owe a thank you note to my son’s teacher.

It took me a while to regain command of my emotions and reassure my son the reason for my tears was immense and overwhelming pride, rather than anything negative.

I do find it hard when people compliment my boy.  Just this morning, as he nearly ran down a neighbour and her dog on his scooter, as I caught up, the neighbour rather than being annoyed, gushed at how polite he is, complimenting him for saying ‘excuse me’.

I probably looked very rude by just nodding, but sometimes it’s all I can do to keep my emotions in check.

It’s like people think it’s got something to do with me.  Which I appreciate to a little extent, I’m here to guide him, keep him in line and to help him understand things.

But his personality, who he is, what he does, how he chooses to behave, these decisions are all down to him.

I am very proud to be his dad.

And as an immensely proud father I shall be avoiding visiting any toyshops with him for a good while in an effort to avoid bankruptcy.