All through my elementary school years, my grades were less than stellar. As a matter of fact, a couple of my teachers had meetings with my Mother about the situation and me not meeting my academic potential. The concept of learning disorders like Autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia and ADD were still (mostly) years in the future. I was branded a ‘Ralph Phillips’ like daydreamer and ‘lazy’.
When I was in the 6th grade, I received my report card and dreaded facing my parents with yet another example of my poor school efforts. Then (like a lightning bolt) I had a clever idea. My Mom was always complaining about how our school system had an endless list of school supply fees (on top of the taxes we paid). That was it! If I played my cards right, I could use this aggravation to my advantage.
My devious ‘plan’ was to tell her that the school ran out of report card forms. All students were supposed to write down their subjects (on a regular piece of notebook paper). In order for this farce to be credible, I had to enlist my school friends with neat penmanship to pretend be my teachers. Each of them wrote down my (fake) grades beside the listed class. Wisely, I had them to use different colored inks (some red ink, some black ink, some blue…) AND I also had them to keep my adjusted grades to a believable level. I knew my parents were never going to believe I made straight A’s. Modest marks were possibly believable. (I wasn’t greedy after all).
While nervous, I explained the whole spiel to my Mom and she didn’t even bat an eye! My caper worked like a charm. Sure I felt guilty about the deception, but it was a guilt I could live with. (Considering the alternative would have meant serious consequences.)
A few weeks go by and I was convinced I avoided disaster until my Mom met me at the doorway. She had a very disappointed look on her face. In her hand was my REAL report card. You see, just like Nixon, my main mistake was not destroying the evidence. I had left my wallet in my pants pocket and when she discovered it in the wash, she pulled out all my things in the pockets to let them dry. Faced with the evidence, I was busted. I won’t tell you that I avoided punishment (because that would be another lie) but I will tell you that because my poor mid term grades were found in time, my Mom was able to meet with my teachers to help me reverse the downward spiral. After buckling down, I managed to turn things around.
If nothing else, she started to understand that I experienced long periods of involuntary loss of concentration that really hindered me from grasping what I was supposed to be learning. In a quiet environment away from the distractions, I was able to better focus. I also needed things expressed in a certain way or I had trouble grasping it. Once my teachers understood that I had a parent that cared (and that I could learn very well under specific criteria) I was able to work with them. They needed to understand that I wasn’t being willfully difficult. It wasn’t a refusal to pay attention. I just ‘drifted off’ when there were repetitive noises in the room.
Anyway the moral of the story is to be honest at all time with your Mom or she will find out. Either that or do a better job of hiding your report card. 😉