In early February, Asher brought home an interim report with 2 A's, 3 B's, and a D on it. As a former speech pathologist with a master's degree I can assure you my son doesn't have a learning disability of any sort and is fully capable of making straight A's. I looked at his interim report, saw his D was in Spelling, read the note from his teacher ("incomplete assignments"), looked straight into Asher's eyes, and said, "Son, in our house a D is for dumb, doesn't care, and/or didn't do the work. I know you're not dumb. I know you care about school. So, the question is... why didn't you do your assignments?"
Asher answered me in a whiny voice... "Moooooommmmmm.... I already know the spelling words. I know how to spell them. I know what they mean. I know how to use them in a sentence. I know them. Why do I have to do the homework? It's so boooooooooooring."
I looked him in the eyes again and answered, "Because. Because your teacher assigned you the work. You may already know all of the words and their definitions... however, you have to do the work because it is required. You can be the smartest person EVER and if you don't work you will go hungry. So, get with it and get your assignments done. School is your job. And, your boss is telling you that you are not doing your best. Make it right. There better not be a D... or for that matter... a C on your upcoming report card. In fact, YOU should be making all A's."
Fast forward one month...
I attended his parent/teacher conference and returned home after getting his report card. When I walked through the door, he was there. He looked at me and asked, "How was the conference?"
I looked at him and asked, "How do you think it went... what do you think you made on your report card?"
He said, "I don't know. But, I think I know."
"Well," I said, "You made all A's."
He smiled, walked toward me, and hugged me tight. In his hug, I could feel his pride. I could feel his inward motivation brought to fruition in good grades. I could sense his satisfaction of a job well done. I knew he had learned the lesson I was trying to teach him. The lesson of personal responsibility, no excuses, and hard work. That was enough. I didn't need to tell him, "See what a little work gets you," or "I knew you could do it," or "You're so smart."
I just hugged him back.