Iz wants a cell phone. Desperately. Her lobbying reached a fever pitch one year ago, and irked even her usually unflappable dad. So we struck a deal: She both stops perseverating on the topic and hits a certain grade plateau for three trimesters in a row, she gets a phone.
She stopped the daily campaigning. She also hit the marks easily for the first two grade cycles. But this Friday, when the third cycle's grades came in, she missed the bar in one class: her hardest, the one she likes the most. By .58%.
She earned a 89.42 B+.
She's not getting the phone.
Because that's the way the world works. Sometimes you fail, despite putting in your all and doing your best. And, you can't argue with math. It's a lesson kids needs to learn, in a way that really sticks. When they're young. Before they get to high school, college, the work force -- before they start believing they can negotiate anything, before they start dealing with people who are not their parents.
This lesson is sticking.
I completely empathize with Iz wanting a phone -- most of her friends have them, and they text each other all the time. She's out of some social loops, and that sucks. But I also see some of her friends treat their expensive devices casually, losing or breaking them without much concern. And Iz is like her mom -- she spends much of her life in her head, untethered to the material world, which means we both misplace important stuff due to inattention. She needs to understand that having a phone is a huge responsibility, a big cash-intensive deal, and one that requires constant locational awareness. These points can't be emphasized strongly enough.
And she will get a phone on her thirteenth birthday, which is in two months. That's been a given since she was wee, since she first started making noises about apps and texting. I think a phone is a good idea, given that she'll be in high school next year, and her activities and independence will only ramp up.
But two months is an eon, from her perspective. She's really bummed. I don't blame her, and told her so.
She handled the missed mark with good grace, though she was initially extremely upset -- she did work her ass off, after all. She also said that she'd rather get a B+ in that class -- which in her opinion is taught by the more invested teacher -- than be in the less challenging class and not learn as much and get an easy A. Her eyes are on learning and mastery, not primarily on the grades -- though she understands that they're important, too. And she did get a consolation prize for the hard work that resulted in such good marks: The first season of a trashy teen soap opera on iTunes.
It's important that our kids to learn how to fail. In that way -- and even though I would never intentionally cause my sweet, thoughtful, hardworking girl distress -- I'm almost glad she didn't get that final A. Better she learns this lesson from someone who loves her unconditionally.