‘I gave my 10-year-old a math test. He spent nearly an hour on it. He worked each problem with intense concentration.’: Mom urges ‘children are so much more than the box we try to mold them into’

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“I gave my 10-year-old a math test today. He spent nearly an hour and used four sheets of scratch paper. He worked each problem with intense concentration. And then with a deep breath he handed it to me to be graded.

I quickly worked my way through the test and calculated his score.

‘It’s an 89’ I said, ‘that’s a high B.’

Immediately his eyes filled with tears. He had done his best work, given his greatest effort and had still come up short.

I looked at my boy and back down at his paper.

And then I ripped it in half.

My boy is amazing in the kitchen. He can cook a meal for the entire family without breaking a sweat.

My boy is incredible at putting things together. He uses tools like a skilled craftsman.

My boy is a founding member of the mother/son debate team, (I just made that up) he can persuade me into doing things I never planned to do.

My boy is hilarious. He is always the first one to make a joke at the dinner table.

My boy is a sensitive soul. He’s kind and gentle when that sort of thing is necessary.

My boy is diligent. He will work at something until he feels it’s as good as it can be.

My boy is NOT defined by the grade on his math paper.

When I ripped that paper up, I looked my boy in the eyes, and I told him how I had watched him. How I saw him give his best, how he considered each problem and checked each one until he felt it was complete. I watched him erase and rework problems he was unsure of. I watched him pour every bit of effort in his little body into that test.

And I told him I had never been prouder.

Children are so much more than test scores. They are so much more than their reading level. They are so much more than the box we try to mold them in to.

School is important, education is important, but it’s not of highest importance.

I am more concerned with how he treats others, with his level of integrity and his desire to serve Jesus than any score on any test.

I am more concerned with his ability to learn how to use his talents to earn money for his family.

I am more concerned with the character we are building than the division facts on the paper.

Our children should have an opportunity to show us where they excel, especially in the elementary years.

I was shocked at the pressure he felt to do well on the test. I never imagined the tears of disappointment that would fall. I admire his ambition and his desire to do well.

I have never been prouder of an 89 on a math test.”

Little boy kneels on floor of home holding drill as he puts together book case
Courtesy Jenn Kish

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sprinkles In My Closet with Jenn Kish. The article originally appeared here. You can follow her journey on Facebook and InstagramSubmit your story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

Read more stories from Jenn here:

‘My dad unexpectedly left a note on the counter. He was leaving us for another woman, but as the pastor of our church he wouldn’t admit it.’: Daughter pens touching tribute to single mom

‘She comes from a broken home. Are you sure you want to marry her?’ My heart sank into my stomach.’: Woman urges ‘just because you come from a broken home doesn’t mean you’re broken’

‘Children are so much more than test scores. My boy is NOT defined by the grade on his paper.’: Mom says ‘school is not of highest importance,’ more concerned with how son ‘treats others’

‘You hold one while feeding another. You get in the shower to hear the baby cry. You get them to sleep, and wonder if you loved them all enough today.’: Open letter to ‘the mama with more babies than hands’

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