Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Preschool Report Card

When Son Number Three “graduated” from preschool this year, we received a report card. I was not expecting a report card, but apparently they take preschool pretty seriously these days. My wife told me that our other two boys got report cards just like this one from this same preschool, but I don’t believe her. Anyway, it’s July and I just got around to actually reading it. It was a hoot!

First, a little background: Son Number Three is the one that broke his femur at three years old and was in a full-body Spica cast for 44 days. My wife and I are convinced that he went just a little bit crazy when he was cooped up in his personal fiberglass prison for so long. He also had his adenoids removed earlier this year. I’m not sure what adenoids are, but I do know they make you snore, so we were all happy to see them go. Between the leg and the adenoids, however, he has been under heavy sedation twice, and we’re pretty sure that has added a little to his mental instability. Basically, he’s a wild little nutball.

Inside the preschool report card packet we received a nicely (carefully) worded cover letter from his teacher (keeper), Lauren.

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Schmatjen,
Your son is such a pleasure to have in class. He brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to our class and is always eager to participate in classroom activities. He has a great sense of humor and easily brings a smile to everyone’s face.

Translation from his father, who knows him all too well:
To the parents of insane asylum inmate # 25,
Your son is in my class, and since you are paying for him to be here, we felt compelled to say something nice. He has far too much energy, and a wild, unrestrained look in his eyes that I guess could be called eagerness to participate, but will probably one day be called psychosis. He laughs constantly, and at inappropriate times, which we will call a sense of humor, and we simply have to smile and laugh with him, otherwise we would cry.

Some of his favorite activities are outdoor play, building in the block area, and working at the writing center. He really enjoys spending his time building and creating and role playing with friends. He is always excited about learning new things.

We put him outside as much as possible for obvious reasons. He spends a lot of his indoor time building towers out of blocks so he will have something to tackle and knock down, because we don’t let him tackle the other inmates. He also enjoys scribbling wildly on paper and the desks and the chairs. When he is not knocking down his own blocks, he enjoys knocking down other kids’ blocks, pretending he is the wrecking ball and they are the unfortunate building owners whose structures have been condemned. He is always far too excited.

He is caring, bright, and charismatic and is truly a joy to be around. I look forward to watching his continued growth throughout the rest of the year.

We saw him hug a teddy bear once, instead of punching it, so we’ll throw in “caring” as a description of your child. He is smart in that scary way that evil scientists are smart, and “charismatic” is the nicest possible term we can use to describe the wild, manic look in his eyes. He is fun to be around for the first two to three minutes of my incredibly long and underpaid day, and I am really looking forward to this school year being over.

Along with this obviously tuition-influenced cover letter full of niceties was his report card. Their grading system is a little different than what I am used to. I am a fan of the A-F grading system. It makes sense to me.

A – Right where you should be, kid.
B – OK, but we need to focus a little bit more.
C – I know they say this is average, but we’re not shooting for average, kid. Step it up.
D – Are you kidding? Did you even go to class? Are you on drugs? Pee in this cup.
F – Better learn a trade skill, kid. You’re going to need it.

The preschool’s grading system was a three letter scale, and they were deemed “skill levels,” not grades. M is for mastering (the highest skill level), D is for developing, and B is for beginning.

Again, presumably since we are paying them and they want our continued business, they gave him mostly M’s. Laughably, they gave him no B’s, but there were faint glimmers of truth in the few D’s that were spread around the report card:

Skill: Engages in cooperative play
Rating: D
Teacher’s note: Encouraging to participate in group activities
Translation: By “encouraging,” I mean we have to yell “Stop that!” a lot. When it comes to play of any kind, he does not have a cooperative bone in his body. He is aggressive, grabby, and loud. This is presumably due to his congenital big brother disorder. (The other teachers around here remember them very well.)

Skill: Recognizes emotions in others
Rating: M
Teacher’s note: He is very caring/comforting with friends
Translation: We do not want the school to get a reputation of producing sociopaths, so we put this on all the report cards for plausible deniability. Your son is obviously a whackadoo.

Skill: Identifies and discriminates time relationships: day/night, today/tomorrow, before/after
Rating: D
Teacher’s note: Blank
Translation: I left this blank because I just didn’t know what to say. He has never gotten this right, ever. He has absolutely no concept of time and space. It’s to the point when we hear him say, “today,” we don’t even try to correct him anymore. We just figure out if he really meant yesterday, tomorrow, last week, or next week, and just go with it.

Skill: Attends and participates in circle time without disrupting other children
Rating: D
Teacher’s note: Blank
Translation: I left this blank because I don’t like to lie on paper. If there was a rating lower than a B on this scale, we should have given it to him. He has never been within 30 feet of another child without disrupting them in some way or another.

Skill: Sustained attention span for a wide variety of activities
Rating: D
Teacher’s note: Blank
Translation: I was simply laughing too hard to write anything legibly.

Besides the coercive, fraud-laced report card, the folder also contained five or six sheets of paper that Son Number Three had filled out over the course of the school year. There were some letter and number writing and identification sheets that caused us to really question if Kindergarten is in the cards for this kid, and some fantastic examples of cutting shapes out with scissors, and scribbling on those cutouts. We still can’t believe they were brave and/or foolish enough to ever give him scissors.

The last page in the folder was a crayon drawing entitled “Self Portrait.” It was a green stick figure with a giant head, and his right stick-arm was stuck straight out to his side. Hovering over the arm was a smaller green stick figure. The teacher had written underneath the drawing, “Me and my daddy. He’s holding me.”

I take it all back. You’re the best kid in the whole world.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Great read Marc! Had me laughing throughout. #3 is a real character that melts my heart. Love when he comes up and throws his arms around me for a big hug, with a twinkle in his eyes and a grin as big as the Grand Canyon. He's a keeper!!!

  2. We like him. Thanks for reading!

  3. So glad he "graduated" from Preschool!!! Can't wait to hear about his Kindergarten report card. :)

  4. The Kindergarten report card will be one thing, but the tally of principal visits will be the real marker!

  5. Let's just hope he doesn't join the juicing gang!

  6. Those Kindergarten gangs are the worst! We've got our fingers crossed for a crime spree-free first year.