Report Cards - Pay for Performance?

I love report card day. So far, report card days have been great days. I'm super blessed with kids that get good grades, and while I do have to give the teachers of all of the credit, I am rejuvenated in my motherhood on those days. I get to feel like I'm a really good mom (to make up for all those days I feel like the worst mom ever).

Third grade brought on a whole new level of report cards. We went to the letter system. My oldest daughter's first letter grade report card was all As and A+s. I beamed. Her father beamed. Most importantly, she beamed. Her teacher wrote a bunch of shiny, happy comments on how wonderful our daughter is (so, of course, I LOVE her teacher). We all beamed some more. We told her great job, keep it up, now you've done it and set the standard, we expect this every time, and by the way, we really do love you just the way you are as long as you're still getting straight As. Okay, so I was only thinking in my head the set the standard, expectations stuff, and of course I'll love her just the same if the grades ever drop. But I know my daughter and she was thinking it too. All is good in the world. We are the Cleavers.

Ironically, the next day I take my two-year-old to the barber shop to get his hair cut. The woman that cut his hair (let's call her Shirley), has owned the barber shop for 30 something years. So we're chatting as she's cutting my little wiggly guy's hair, and I'm not really considering what else she might have done during that 30 something years. To me, she was just this really nice woman with Buzz Light Year hanging over her head so that my child would be entertained long enough to get his hair cut.

She asked about my other kids and so I asked about hers. She has two boys. One is in college, and the other a senior in high school. The one is college was Valedictorian of his high school class. Her senior will also be Valedictorian of his class. Suddenly, Shirley was no longer the woman that owned the barber shop for 30 something years, but was now the proud mother of two Valedictorians. I asked her how she managed to pull that off. She said, "I'm just blessed."

Well, I get that blessed stuff and all, but I knew there was more to it. So I probed, as every mother seeking good advice should do. I asked her if they just got good grades because they wanted to, or if she rewarded them. I'd been tossing around the idea of paying for grades now that letter grades were in the picture, and I was curious what the best, most morally correct, and productive way to keep a straight A student motivated to continue being a straight A student. Or should grades be like those chores they must do simply because they are part of the family so they must contribute?

She smiled and said, "Sure I rewarded them. I mean, I get paid for my performance, why shouldn't they? Doesn't it teach them how life really works? Starting in third grade, I paid a quarter for every A and an extra dime for every A+. Every year, I increased it a quarter. By the time high school hit, my oldest still had straight As and he put a hand on my shoulder and said, 'Mom, you don't have to pay me anymore. I'm getting the grades for me now.'"

I wanted to cry and hug Shirley. There was my answer, as if light were shining down on Shirley and she was my fairy Godmother telling me that yes, it is okay to pay your child for good grades. It wasn't bribing them to do something they should want to do themselves, but rather it was encouraging them, providing an incentive, paying for performance. The same way life as an adult works. I wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon with Shirley, but she blew the hair off of my toddler, smiled, and said, "First haircut is on me."

So now we pay a quarter for each A and an extra dime if it's an A+. We're paying for S+ too; to get the younger one motivated and accustomed to the PFP (pay for performance) system she will enter in the third grade.

But this has not only been motivating for my daughter, it has opened up conversations. She brought home her report card last night and we discussed her grades and how much she earned for her performance, and she asked, "So what if you get straight As all the way through high school?"

I told her it opened a lot of doors, for whatever college she might want to attend, for scholarships, to pursue a dream job or even just a dream. She asked me if I'd heard of Stanford. I said, "Yes, but you're going to need a whole lot of perfect report cards for that one." She went to her room and started counting her money.

I know I may not end up with four Valedictorians, but I do thank Shirley for introducing a way for my husband and I to install the idea of pay for performance at an early age. I believe it will have a lasting impact, even if I'm broke by the time they all graduate from paying my kids for their report cards. In fact, I hope I am. That would mean they did well.

What about you? Will you pay for performance?

Get this book - unless you're all "rainbows and unicorns."

I just have to share the book these women wrote. I really wanted to write this book, but they did instead. But I can't hate them for beating me to it, because they are too darn funny, and that scores pretty high in my book (ha! no pun intended.) They're all bloggers, by the way, and since we all have so much spare time to just sit around reading blogs all day(not), you may as well just go ahead and put them on your list so you don't have to use that spare time researching blogs you should read in your spare time.

The book is titled, 'I Just Want to Pee Alone'.

Are you relating already? (Don't worry, the link to buy the book is just a few paragraphs away)

These women are so freaking hilarious that even if you did have the chance to pee alone, you might not make it to the bathroom. Yes, it is 'pee your pants', laugh-out-loud, read-over-another-mom's-shoulder funny. So since most of us didn't do the required number of kegels (but lie and say we did), you might just want to read it while on the toilet; assuming you actually do sneak away for a few precious moments of alone time. (Is that sad; I mean that we'll take alone time at the drop of a hat, even if it is in the bathroom?)

Anyway, the reason I love these ladies is because they don't take themselves too seriously, they pile on the sarcasm, don't give a hyena's hoot what other mother's think of them, willingly throw the f*bomb here and there, and pretty much let you know right off the bat that if you don't like what they write, you can just take your little prissy self somewhere else where they sip tea with their pinky in the air, never forget to cross their legs, and talk about their perfect children while those children are out throwing firecrackers into the neighbors car.

These ladies are my kind ladies. They inspire the H out of me. So, if you like to laugh, and appreciate motherhood for what it really is (I mean, let's be honest here, c'mon), get this book! Do yourself a favor, Momma. Don't you deserve a laugh today?

Where in the H did my quiet go?

Last week, my hubby ran off with the three girls to South Carolina, and left me home with two-year-old little man. For SEVEN DAYS and SIX NIGHTS. Heaven, did I hear you knocking? Hello? Oh, hello Heaven.

So, I was stuck home(poor me) with only one of my four children and no other human around, and I was spared the usual of the daily routine, like fighting, and making a meal only to hear the words "I don't like that", and I only heard a little whining when I wasn't giving little man 100 percent of my attention.

One of the best of all things: I didn't cook a darn thing. I microwaved, but I don't dare call that cooking (even though I kind of think it is) because the Betty Crocker/Martha Stewart/Rachel Ray types would dust me in that argument. So anyway, I was not necessarily "cooking" (but I did feed my child) and therefore, dishes were limited, laundry was null, and I spent a lot of time purging all of the crap out of the house, and making it all nice and purty for when everyone returned (to just mess it up again). I also read a lot. I slept a lot too, but not enough.

Because best of all, was the quiet. I wanted to cherish the quiet.

When little man went to bed at night, I knew he was a goner. No waking up wanting any stupid water, or another freaking banana. He was toast. Tired little dude. And the night was mine. Mine alone. I got to enjoy this super rare thing that I darn near forgot about, called quiet. My new most favorite thing in the entire world (except my family, of course, because I have to say that), but yes, quiet. My favorite thing in the whole world.

In fact, that's what I'm going to start asking for my birthday, and Christmas, and anything else anyone ever asks what I want. I'm going to reply, "I would love some quiet. What a precious gift that would be."

Seriously, just wrap me up some quiet with a great big bow. It would be the best gift I've ever received.

So, of course, the fastest six days ever went by, and the chaos returned in the form of three giddy little girls, and one really busy husband. The house is an instant disaster, and my quiet is all gone. And I just want it back. NOW!

But, dream big, I suppose, because slowly all the life bursting with enthusiasm and screaming around me will sink in and become the new normal again. I'll go about my days trying to answer everyone talking to me all at once while I pick up the eight million things that don't belong on the floor.

Quiet is gone. Not forever, but gone for now. I miss it already. Pretty heartbroken, actually.

So, until we meet again, possibly in Heaven, who knows. I love you, Quiet. With all my heart. When in the H can you come back? Not soon enough!