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Stay-at-Home Dad: Everything Counts

A child's report card makes me evaluate my own existence.

My oldest son’s report card came in the mail the other day. He is 13 (going on 10) and in his final months of . His grades were good for the most part, with his traditional spattering of A’s and B’s, but way down at the bottom of his progress report was a brand new letter of the alphabet to add to his transcript–a “D."

When pressed about the mark he did a familiar song and dance, and ended up telling me that he just didn’t take the subject too seriously and even worse, didn’t feel like making much of an effort during the semester. Granted it would have been nice to have received a “heads up” from the teacher before his grades were etched in stone, but my wife and I chose to use this experience as an opportunity to convey the point that next year in high school EVERYTHING COUNTS.

Those two words together seemed to ricochet around in my head much more so than they even dare entered into my son’s. It’s a little sad that maybe I am a bit more in tune to today’s world of college admittance and school tracking. All this combined with the super-competitive sport of being a Westchester parent sometimes makes me feel like I am some type of ogre. But I know the way a lot of people around here feel, its survival of the fittest and if your kid can’t deliver the goods from the start of high school it is more than hard to catch up–it's near impossible.

Through my anger, and maybe my disappointment, I had an epiphany. If I am telling him that everything counts, why am I seemingly immune to the same concept? Maybe everything that I do should count for something also.

So, I tried to embrace this concept and adopt the fact that I should have skin in the game with all my endeavors. Funny thing is that I quickly noticed that I seem to do a lot of coasting within my daily life. Preparing meals, corresponding with clients, even catching up with loved ones, man I’m phoning in my own existence! This needs to change because it is frightening to even begin to contemplate what the long-term ramifications of this kind of behavior could be.

I can only wonder how I got to this type of undemonstrative existence. Have my kids worn me down? Is life in the suburbs too boring and repetitive for me? Am I missing out on too many other things in life? Or do I just have the end of school year blahs and need the summer to recharge my batteries?

Whatever it is, I need to fix it and try a little harder at everything I do, because in life the last thing that I want to get is a “D."

Sarah Chauncey May 11, 2012 at 12:28 PM
I rarely comment on a post, but thought I'd share this thought with parents and students. I am a perfectionist by nature and I am definitely one of those "everything counts" people. However, high school is not the gatekeeper some people believe it to be. If a student, for whatever reason, ends up with a GPA that does not get her into a college of choice, he can transfer after a proven year in another college program. Even one stellar semester in a respected community college program will influence how a college evaluates the student for admission. Think of the adults who have returned to college for second and third degrees -- how many had straight A's in high school -- and yet they are highly valued members in the classroom for the mature, life experience perspective they bring to the table.
RJ May 11, 2012 at 01:41 PM
"...if your kid can’t deliver the goods from the start of high school it is more than hard to catch up–it's near impossible." Thank you, Sarah, for challenging this opinion. We all know kids that no matter how hard they try can't get A's. To say they can't go to college is unfair. A successful person has more than book smarts. They have drive, ambition, dedication and commitment.

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