In junior high, I got grounded for a week for making a B in algebra.
At the time, of course, I thought my mom was the meanest, least understanding Tiger Mom in the entire world. I am sure I cursed her under my breath, to my friends, and in one of my many journals. Woe was me. It simply was not fair. I had All A’s and just one B on my 9-weeks report card. Why wasn’t that good enough?
During the week when I was grounded, I studied harder and did all of my homework. I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone so I spent my time on schoolwork and brooding over my misfortunes instead. I daydreamed less often about the hunky boy I was obsessed with, who is now 35 and has very little hair and a gigantic beer belly. I thought the week would never end.
After taking my next test in algebra and scoring well enough to bring up my grade to an A, the shackles were loosened. I was able to have friends over, sit in the hallway twirling the telephone cord around my hand, and go back to cheering at basketball games again (an important privilege, considering the hunky boy played basketball). My hatred for my mom simmered to typical teenage angst.
Throughout the years, I’ve come to understand my mom’s reasoning regarding what seemed so unfair to me at 13. It wasn’t that a B was a bad grade–my mom just knew that I was capable of much more. She knew my true potential, and she wanted me to realize it. She was more concerned with my sense of accomplishment and my academic success than with being on my BFF list.
Thank God. The discipline and drive my mom longed for me to have (and pushed me to obtain) eventually translated into intrinsic motivation. When I went to undergraduate school, I maintained a high GPA and graduated with honors. In every job I’ve ever had, I’ve not been satisfied with just earning a paycheck but have tried to excel at the tasks at hand and have sought to solve problems and fill holes with my abilities, talents, and hard work. As a graduate student, I admit I am slightly obsessed right now with maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
I wouldn’t want it any other way. At the end of the day, and at the end of my life, I believe I’ll be able to rest well, knowing that I’ve done my best to “study to show myself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15), investing wholly in what really matters, whether it be my education, parenting, or serving and loving others.
I guess I better eat crow, call my mom, and tell her thank you once again.