I need to pay closer attention to what’s happening in school for the boy. More and more each day, I realize how much I am like my own parents when it comes to education. Even though I am (and they were) sort of hands off, I still want the boy to do well and I have this (perhaps) short-sighted notion that he will succeed by learning through example and osmosis. Still, I know that new-fangled parents need to be more involved with our kids—much more so than my parents ever were—and I’m trying to be more engaged, even though it’s hard because a busy work schedule gets in the way of being an optimally good dad.

Since school started, the boy has been saying, “It’s OK, as long as I try my best and I’m having fun,” a phrase I’m sure he hears his teacher say every day. I like this idea in principle, but a part of me cringes every time I hear my son say this. Mostly, I assume that he’s already trying to do his best and saying it out loud feels like an admission of mediocrity. I don’t want him to just try, I want him to crush whatever task is in front of him. Of course, I’d never tell him this, but I’m worried because since starting kindergarten my very ambitious, very competitive kid seems to be settling for good enough. This seems like a very American POV on education, where everyone is great and everyone gets a prize.

I guess I’ve been instilled with a much more cut-throat, Chinkie perspective on school competition. Ironic, since I’m totally not competitive at all. But even being somewhat lazy, I still have that killer instinct when it comes to education, and I know I could crush the competition if I chose to do so. I just choose to play the fool because I’ve found it’s a lot easier to get along with other people if they believe they are smarter than I am. I’m happy to feed into their delusions.

But for the boy, I don’t want him to succumb to dumbing down to fit in. It’s a Catch-22: If he’s a know-it-all at school, kids won’t like him. If he dumbs himself down to fit in, teachers won’t think he’s smart. Not sure how to handle this.

There was a homework assignment in the boy’s bag that requires him to bring something and wear something that has a pattern to school on Monday. The homework sheet provided some examples, pictured above. My first thought: why would I dress my kid to look like Charlie Brown? And what kind of decorator-slash-stylist would furnish a home with pillow cases that look like the monstrosity above? Or the tie pictured above?

And then I realized that I should just STFU because no one likes a smart-ass.

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