Updated: January 10, 2013 6:11AM
My two sons came home with solid report cards last month. Bubba and Peter posted strong grades, and their teachers had good things to say about the boys.
But a school report card can only evaluate my 6- and 5-year-olds while they’re in class. This accounts for a significant portion of their day. However, the remainder of the time goes largely unchecked.
With that in mind, I decided to craft a second report card. This one evaluates my boys at home… and I’m a strict grader. Here goes:
TEETH BRUSHING: Bubba – C. Peter – C. My boys are neither enthusiastic nor consistent when it comes to dental hygiene. Though, I have managed to teach them to brush their tongues, which cuts down on the dragon breath.
DRESSING THEMSELVES: Bubba – B-plus. Peter – B-plus. This grade would likely improve if we weren’t always in a rush. As a result, I typically take over the process midway through. Bubba and Pete can dress themselves. Though, it often results in missing belt loops and shirts tucked into underwear.
TAKING MEDICINE: Bubba – F. My first-grader has the unique ability to vomit when forced to swallow anything he dislikes. He puked three consecutive times when asked to swallow grape-flavored cough syrup last week.
Peter – A. Pete takes a shot of cough syrup like a college student takes a shot of tequila. He fills his mouth with the contents of the plastic cup and throws his head back, swallowing the medicine in one gulp. He usually asks for water as a chaser.
HOMEWORK: Bubba – A. Peter – A. My two sons never complain about doing their homework. In fact, Pete isn’t even assigned homework in preschool. So, he asks me to come up with homework assignments for him.
MEALTIME: Bubba – D-plus. Bub’s diet consists of about 10 items, and he’s unwilling to try anything new. This lack of variety makes it difficult to eat at restaurants and enjoy dinner parties.
Bubba seems to have little interest even in food he likes. The nagging question is always, “How many more bites do I have to take?”
Peter – C. Pete’s palate is slightly more adventurous. But my preschooler is a lunchtime lollygagger. He’ll sit at the table taking small bites of food as though it were the only activity planned for the day. He once took an hour to eat half a bagel.
BATHS: Bubba – A. Peter – A. My sons never want to take a bath. Still, they do it. There’s some splashing around, but nothing out of the ordinary.
In fact, I think they might soon be ready to take the next step — showers. I anticipate this as a life-changing advancement, like the day they started buckling their own seatbelts.
BEDTIME: Bubba – A. Peter – A. My two boys have always been good sleepers. They wake up consistently at 7 a.m. Bedtime is typically around 8 p.m. There’s a story or two. Then, the lights are shut off. Waking up in the middle of the night and refusing to fall asleep is rare.
I found it helpful to step back and evaluate my boys in these non-school categories. Just like their school report card, it forced me to recognize areas that need improvement.
I realized that the areas where my boys struggle are also the areas where I struggle as a parent. If I was more consistent when it comes to brushing teeth, Bubba and Peter would likely fall in line. If I didn’t cater to their mealtime quirks, they’d likely eat better too.
The idea behind the report card was to evaluate my sons. It ended up a self-evaluation.
Howard A. Ludwig is a former SouthtownStar business writer who traded his reporter’s notepad for a diaper bag, becoming a stay-at-home dad.
He can be reached at email@example.com.