Carol Littlejohn: Report cards for 4-year-olds and tattooed Barbies

October 28, 2011 11:55:00 AM



I guess I am just old fashioned but when my daughter-in-law came in the other day with a report card for my 4-year-old grandson, Cole, well, I was just flabbergasted. I believe that every Mother should try to stay home with their children and make sure that they get a good old home-cooked meal every day. However, times have changed and who am I to say what is right and what is wrong in child rearing;  as my son, Judson, points out, I didn't just do a bang-up job with him (although I think I did just fine-most of the time). But getting back to a report card at 4. 


Whatever happened to starting school at 6? If your birthday fell after Sept. 1, you just waited until the next year-no problem. This was especially true if you were a boy, as we all know, because you were just not as mature as us girls. I walked one block to Stokes Beard Elementary every day of my younger days - went home for lunch and skipped home after 3.  Those were the days; don't you just hate saying that? 


We had never heard of ADD or speech problems. Most of us had our tonsils and adenoids   (sorry, Dr. Joe Boggess) and we certainly had never gone to the dentist.  However, looking at the dentist now, some 55 years later, that probably was not a good idea. I found it distressing when Cole wanted to know what apps I had on my phone (I was proud to know what apps were, but I do not have any.). My first phone was a pink "princess" one and my Mother could pick-up on the kitchen phone and know exactly what I was talking about and when.  


Starting school, we knew a little about coloring inside the lines, maybe, could write our names and knew how to count to 5. Personally, I do not think I am any worse off from not being able to write my name at 4 or count to 20. I believe pedaling a bicycle to Propst Park and dressing up in my grandmother's slips and wearing plastic high heel shoes were just as important.  


We don't need a TV in the back of the car, do we? I watched Andy Griffith on a black and white and I thank WCBI for keeping him on- do not mess with my dinner on a tray at 6:30 on most weekdays or else. I have always wanted to stay at Aunt Bea's, haven't you? Or lived in Mayberry where you walked to the grocery store?  I don't think a 4 year old needs to sit and be still for a length of time.  I think he needs sunshine, good books and a hug when he falls out of the sand pile.  A good tree to climb before dark would be okay too.  However, these days, it is out the door by 7 and home, hopefully, before dark - grabbing a bite at the drive thru.  


When Jennifer brought in Cole's report card, I was just astonished. There were two or three sheets - back and front-of Cole's progress. There are no A's or B's, now we have 1, 2 or 3.  I always thought 1 was the best but not today. One must strive for 2's and 3's. I don't understand a 2 or 3 but I certainly know an A or an F.  I would not know how to rate a 4-year-old. I don't know if he needs to speak some Spanish or if it is more important for him to know how to text, really!  It is amazing to me that Cinderella has to vie with the color wheel.  And while I am on this subject, what is the deal with a tattooed $50 Barbie doll that is the "hot" item for Christmas? I had one Barbie - the one with the blonde ponytail and she slept in a steak dish that I had borrowed from my Mother's cabinet.  


I suppose that there are new, good things these days. There are certainly items that make our life easier - the microwave, cell phones and GPS systems on our cars. But and this is a big but - what are we going to do with a 4-year-old that is already getting rated? We get rid of wrinkles that we have earned, we get waxed, our lips grow and our some of us have hips that disappear. Could this be our personal rating?  I hope not. 


I wish for my grandchild a life of good times, good friends and good books, travel now and then. I hope that he grows up and knows the difference between a nap in the car and a nap in the swing on the porch and that he knows how to take the time to enjoy it. I hope that he doesn't rate himself as a 1 or a 2 or a 3; although, I hope he understands the value of an education.  I hope that he will know that a report card will not be the measure of what he might become. I also hope he doesn't want a tattooed Barbie for Christmas. 


Carol Littlejohn, the owner of Dixie Auto Parts, is an occasional contributor to The Dispatch. Her e-mail address is [email protected]