Thursday, April 19, 2007

What Will They Think of Next?

At three minutes and four seconds after 2 AM on the 6th of May this year, the time and date will be 02:03:04 05/06/07. This will never happen again!

Do Our Personalities Change...or Just Develop?

I was at my parents' house the other day and my mother handed me a pile of envelopes, some manila ones, others business-size.

"What are these?" I asked.

"Your report cards. You can store them now."

My mother, who is well-known for her organization and archival skills, had done her share of keeping my day school, junior high and high school report card all these years; she wanted to "clean up" a bit.

As I sat in the driveway of my childhood home, I opened up the envelopes and began to read...and remember...and think: Do our personalities change...or just develop? Some of the comments that appeared on those reports would be the same comments that someone would write about me today:

Kindergarten: 1966-67 -- Winter Term: "I am pleased with Pearl's progress. She has a good attitude towards learning and towards people."

Grade 1: 1967-68 -- 1st Term: "Pearl is a very pleasant child...Sometimes, Pearl does not think for herself and would rather other children think for her."

2nd Term: "...She is not as sure of her arithmetic as her reading."

Grade 2: 1968-69: 1st Term: "She is a very co-operative and courteous girl, willing to help others..."

2nd Term: "Pearl is anxious to please and is co-operative with others and myself at all times."

Hebrew report card: 1st Term: "Pearl is a well-behaved and friendly child. She ...tries her best at all times. She is anxious to please but has difficulty in retaining vocabulary."

Grade 3: 1969-70: 2nd Term: "Pearl continues to do good work in writing and spelling. She has a good understanding of sentence and paragraph construction."

Grade 4: 1970-71: 3rd Term: "Conscientious--hard worker--seems to be more relaxed and at ease with school work and her peers."

Grade 5: 1971-72: 1st Term: "Pearl's appreciation of literature helps her contribute stimulating and interesting ideas to theses lessons. Her own creative writing is well organized and mature for her age."

Grade 6: 1972-73: 2nd Term: "Pearl has generally kept up her good work habits this term although, on occasion, she has to be "checked" for talking to her neighbours."

These are just some samples from the primary day school reports; as I reviewed them, I noted that teachers repeated phrases -- my math was always a weakness, my reading and writing were always my strengths; in some of the latter grades, my map skills were weak; one year it was noted that I didn't participate and offer up my ideas in the classroom, in subsequent years I was complimented on my ability to participate; in a couple of years, I had to be reminded not to talk to my "neighbors" while in class.

Overall, my report cards were always good -- my secular studies and my Hebrew/Jewish studies generally were good, with just some individual weakness: sciences/maths/map skills and sometimes socialization. My language and literature -- reading and writing -- skills were always noted as being well-developed or advanced. (If that's the case, how come I'm simply a blog writer, a writer of poetry, but not a journalist or novelist?!)

As I've reviewed my report cards, I can't help but think that my daughter is a lot like me in a number of academic areas with her weaknesses being/were my weaknesses; her strengths being/were my strengths. The main difference is the social area: I was a shy and reasonably quiet child. She is absolutely the opposite...thank G-d!
I guess I'll just have to hang on to her report cards, as my mother did with mine, and in some thirty-plus years, she can review them and see how much/if she's changed.