Online access to grades – yay or nay?


The ability to check my children’s grades online and the weekly emails from their teachers have made me feel like an enabler and contributed to the possibility of me being helicopter-ish.

It’s true. I like the “real-time” check on how my children are doing, and that I am “in the know” on what they are studying and if they have an upcoming test or not (because they sure don’t tell me.)

But here’s the rub. I get an email from a teacher about a vocabulary quiz on Friday. I feel like I need to ask my child “Did you know you have a quiz on Friday? Did you study? Where are the vocab words?”

In reality, my child should be responsible and pay attention in class and already know this. And he probably did. But if he didn’t, I have just saved him from a bad grade, a possible lesson in reality. Is anyone going to do that for him in college? Is his mommy going to remind him about finals when he is 20 years old? Or that he has that big presentation at work the next morning?

Let’s talk about the online grade card. It’s great. It’s better than only seeing your grade every nine weeks, like back in 1986. I can see every worksheet, quiz, test and project and the final grade. So if my child had an A in math, and then starts getting Ds and Fs on assignments, I will know right away and can talk to him to correct the problem.

On the other hand, shouldn’t my child be accountable and realize he is getting these not-so-great grades and make an effort HIMSELF? Without me telling him?

What if I see that his grades are slipping, but don’t say anything to him? Am I a horrible parent? I would assume he would know – do I just wait until he says something? Let him suffer the consequences? Tough love?

My head would say tough love, my heart would by breaking…

Update: Everyone is a winner.

IMG_6072After cleaning his room, I found this pile of medals outside my 12 year old’s room.

“What are these doing here?” I asked him.

“I don’t want them anymore,” he replied.

“You don’t want any of these? Why not?”

“There’s too many…”

This is exactly what I was talking about in this post. By awarding him a medal for “participating,” the medals mean nothing. Some of these medals are for winning, but because he got a medal whether he won or not, those medals are discarded just like the others.

Medals, ribbons and trophies meant something when I was a kid. It meant you performed better than the other kids. It meant you tried your best and was the best. It doesn’t matter if it’s the class spelling bee or a state-wide competition. The point is you worked hard, studied, trained, whatever…to earn that ribbon or medal. Only the select few were awarded them. And you were proud.

Fast forward to 2015: Kids don’t care about those awards because they’ve been taught that just by “participating” or “showing up,” they are deserving of something.

I’m not the only one with the “only winners get medals” mentality. A recent poll said 57 percent of Americans think only winners should be rewarded. But here’s where it gets interesting.  When respondents were broken down by age, younger respondents (those 18-24) liked the idea of participation trophies, while the older generations thought the opposite. Is it because that’s how the younger generation grew up?  Because that’s what we have taught them?

As I mentioned in my previous post, in the real world a reward for “showing up” or “doing your job” doesn’t exist. Why do we act like it does?

Hiring Help is Not a “Tip” For Getting it all Done

My real life: some days there are dirty dishes…everywhere.

In the past two weeks I’ve read two articles with headlines something like “Tips For Getting It All Done and Being in Bed by 9” and “Productivity Hacks for Moms.”

These articles promote spending quality time with their children, while carving out time to exercise, fix healthy meals and get eight hours of sleep. Great! What tips do you have for me?

Oh. Those headlines should have read like this: “How The 1% Gets It Done” and “I’m In Bed by 9 pm Because I Have a Nanny that Cleans and Does Laundry.”

Let me get this straight. Your “tip” is that you pay someone to clean, do laundry and help you “prep for dinner”?

I’m sorry – these are not “tips” or “hacks”  because last I heard the definition of “tip” is “a small but useful piece of practical advice” and a “hack” is “a clever solution to a tricky problem.” Hiring help is neither of these things and something most of us can not do. The majority of families do not have a line item in their budget for chef or nanny.

It’s a bit of a fairy tale, I would say. It’s definitely not my real life.

Fairy tale life:
My nanny watches my children, cleans, and does laundry…while I work.

My real life:
My children are in school all day, so I don’t need childcare. Sometimes my boys have to wear dirty clothes because there’s no clean laundry. If you came to my house you would might see dirty dishes, books, toys, dog hair, crumbs…

Fairy tale life:
Someone comes to my house and preps healthy, organic meals and helps me plan dinner.

My real life:
We eat a lot of scrambled eggs, grilled cheese, frozen stuffed pasta and homemade flatbread pizza. And by homemade, I mean I open the flatbread package, pour pasta sauce on it, top it with pepperoni and cheese and pop it in the oven. We often run out of fresh fruit and vegetables because I don’t make it to the grocery store. I do use the crockpot a lot, so there’s that.

Fairy tale life:
Since I don’t need to cook or clean much, and someone is watching my children, I can go to yoga or hit the gym most days.

My real life:
My alarm is set for 5:15 a.m. so I can exercise. Ask my husband how often I actually do that. If I wait until evening, it doesn’t happen either. I do try and take the dog for at least a 15-minute walk.

Fairy tale life:
I’m in bed by 9 p.m. so I can get a good night’s sleep.

My real life:
Ha ha! That’s a good one…in bed by 9 p.m.

It’s great that you can afford help. In fact, I’m jealous. But next time, call it what it is…and it’s not “tips” or “hacks.” It’s resources, money and fairy tales.