are we assholes?

A few months ago, my bride told our oldest that if she made all A’s in her international baccalaureate program during the fall semester of her senior year–the last one prospective colleges will likely see and evaluate–we’d take her to New York City for her spring break.  She wanted to stave off senioritis and help us avoid having to pay for college (since, given her standardized test scores, having all A’s in an IB program will pretty well guarantee a proverbial “full ride” for undergrad).

She got her grades a couple of weeks ago.  She not only had a bunch of A’s, but they were almost all higher A’s!  But she had one 89 (and one needs a 90 to get an A around here, it seems.  I had to get a 94 in Tennessee 20 years ago, but I digress).  One point short.

The Mrs. and I both decided (independently, as I was out of town) that she shouldn’t get to go, as a standard is a standard.  However, most everyone to whom we mention this looks at us like we’re assholes.  What says you, internet?  I’m asking here because if I put it on FaceBook, the girl will see it, and we’ll look like wafflers.

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  1. Amandawhoknowsbest

    You are not assholes. But I do think you should take her. She worked hard. Probably worked her ass off. Good chance one of the grades she got was arbitrary – at least in part based on what the teacher had for breakfast. Would it be better for her to have gotten all 90s? Just in by the skin if her teeth in all classes?
    Taking her despite the missing point shows that effort gets rewarded, too. And even though the world might hold her to standards with no leeway, her parents recognize that a point here or there could have gone either way. It won’t be spoiling her, or teaching her not to try hard; it will be teaching her that even when the chips fall the wrong way, despite best efforts otherwise, her mom and dad know that she is the best of the best.
    Or, you could write in to the Bert Show. They’ll tell you whether you’re assholes.

    • Dear AmandDon’tKnowShit,

      D told her if she prepares a PowerPoint presentation explaining why she should get to go, then we’ll reconsider the verdict. Sort of like an appeal.

      Feel free to forward this post to Bert, since y’all are buddies and all. I only listen to XM.

  2. Amandawhoknowsbest has a point. I think that with all that hard work, you guys could give her one last break on a single point. The real world tends to chew us up and spit us out, so a great trip with the folks might be just the ticket.
    Don’t know why, but makes me want to share (you’re kind of my bartender these days). When I was in Hawaii as a 10 year old, I wanted to buy a military stuffed bear. My father asked if I could afford it with the $30 I had earned on my own for the trip. I could not, so the bear was not purchased. Later in life he remarried, has a daughter the same age, and is in Hawaii as I write this. My half-sister posts a picture on Facebook with the caption that reads. “Here are my new Swarovski crystal encrusted boots I got in Hawaii.” The retail from $600-1500.
    Phew! Thanks for letting me get that out. Good luck and sounds like you’re more in touch than most.

    The Cheeky Daddy

  3. When I was involved in the IB, it was on a 42 point scale, with a “7” being the highest score in each class. I kind of appreciated that connection with Douglas Adams’ answer to the Big Question.

    Your daughter must be in a program at a school that mixes IB with other programming, or you wouldn’t even be talking about A’s. I’m not sure what an 89 would break down to on a 7 point scale.

    I think I’d incline towards your decision, with the caveat that I might try to think of a way for her to make up the difference. Like, if she goes to the teacher to ask for extra credit, or even goes to talk to the teacher for extra help a couple times, maybe making a plan for how to achieve higher in the next term, I might let things slide. Because, yeah, it teaches a good lesson that trying to just skate by won’t cut it…but those other things could teach equally valuable lessons, and suggest to her that you’re on the same team trying to make something happen.

    But what do I know. I only have a two year old.

  4. Muskrat, I assume that you’re posting this on behalf of another. Your kids will no doubt face the challenge of an International Baccalaureate someday, but that’s a long way off.

    So to your pal, here’s what I say.

    Yes, you’re assholes. Just IMHO.

    What do you want to reward in your daughter? The grade? Or the hard work she put into it?

    If she had cheated and got the grade, would you still reward her with the Spring Break vacation? After all, a standard is a standard.

    If it’s a matter of hard cash—if that single point means you’ll need to put the Spring Break vacation dough toward tuition instead—then that’s different. It becomes an issue of simple arithmetic and financial means.

    But let’s assume that the reward won’t break the bank.

    Enforcing the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law, teaches a lesson. That hard work, ability and discipline isn’t really what counts. That the number on the piece of paper is what counts. And if I were she, I’d start to think that any way to achieve the number was as good as any other way to achieve the number. I would start to work less hard, and try to game the system to my advantage. I would believe that my parents are holding me accountable for the fact that my teacher in one subject had a bad day when she or he marked my paper. That’s the lesson I’d take from my parents’ behaviour.

    You’ll be equipping her for a career at Enron or Lehmann Brothers.

    Sadly, the world often judges us on numbers. That’s a lesson she will learn all too well. But you’re not the IRS or S&P or an Olympic shotput judge with a tape measure. You’re her parents. You aim to build her character. Numbers are less important than the sweat and dedication you saw in your daughter as she studied.

    Personally, I think she’s kept up her end of the bargain.

    • Thanks for your insight, HH!

      Yes, she’s a resident of the Muskrat household (I just don’t post pictures or anecdotes like I do with the little ones since she’s capable of going online and seeing them).

  5. Dude. Take her to NYC. Seriously.

  6. Your little girl is going to college next year. She’s saving you money by taking extra classes her senior year instead of relaxing and slacking for the second half of the year like most kids do. AND she’s getting almost all A’s. You’ve obviously done something right. Bravo.

    Now take the kid to NY. Seriously. How can you even be questioning this. SHE’S LEAVING FOR COLLEGE!!! Any memories you make during a spring break trip with your daughter will be far more valuable than the rigid lesson you’d teach her by not taking her.

    • This might actually be the best reasoned response I’ve received!

      Although, my solution was to take her to Chattanooga, which is only 100 miles north, and has Rock City, Lookout Mountain, and other weird shit.

  7. Alright, so I’m going to be the voice of dissent, I guess. I say no, don’t take her to NYC, because a) a standard is a standard and b) I think being consistent and sticking to our word even when it sucks teaches our kids that they can count on us to stick to our word when it counts.

    You might give her another reward for her hard work. Something that says you’re proud of her, but that isn’t the initially promised reward.

    (Moreover, I’d really be a stickler because it sounds like she probably didn’t have to bust her ass for an 89%.)

  8. Another thought. Could you approach the teacher, explain how hard she’s worked, and have her do something for extra credit? She’d get her 90 and you’d not be an asshole.

    (It only took an 86 to get an up here in Canuckistan when I was in high school.)

  9. What is her GPA? If she got higher A’s, that should offset the B+? If her overall GPA is still 4.0+, could you construe that she met the spirit of the standard rather than the actual standard?

  10. Teachers are assholes and I don’t believe in the grades they give… That being said, I don’t really get the weird A and B and 89 grading as we have a completely different system, buuuuut her average is way above 90. And the average should count.

  11. I would have her approach the teacher and plead her case for an extra point via whatever means possible (extra credit, retake a test). It seems to me, if there is an asshole in this scenario it’s the person that wouldn’t give a half point for effort and round up to an A when they know what it can mean to a college bound student.

    That said, I would take the trip to NY regardless. Life is too short to miss opportunities on a sliver of a standard.

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