Remember when you were in school and that obnoxious kid would remind the teacher that they had promised to give a quiz? Or that the teacher had forgotten to collect the day’s homework? Ugh! We had so many names for that kid. Teacher’s pet. Goody two shoes. Nerd. Loser.
Of course, with distance, we can laugh about it, or even feel bad about the bullying the kid received for being such a stickler for the rules. But there is another angle we might think about as parents, now that we have kids of our own, and that is: How do we make sure our kid is not that kid? Because beneath that sucking up is actually something that is not so pleasant—it’s a real lack of empathy for everyone else in class.
Think about it: All that kid is thinking about is that they are prepared for the quiz. They are thinking about the fact that they did their homework. Which is great! But it’s so easy to forget at that age—and at any age—that not everyone is in the same position as you. What about the kid who doesn’t have parents that help him with his homework? What about the girl who is a slower learner and could have used the extra day to grasp what was going on in class? What about the kids who left their papers at home and thought they were getting a lucky break?
As a dad with smart, precocious kids, as a dad who is actively involved in their children’s lives, it’s on you to help them understand that not everyone is as confident or fortunate as they are. Not everyone is dying to take a test or turn in the homework—in fact, many of their peers are dreading it. It’s important that we realize this, that we mind our own business and try not to make other people suffer. We should prompt our kids to think about the subjects they’re struggling with, and ask how they feel when someone is a know-it-all or when someone doesn’t stop to think about the people in the bottom of the class.
At the end of the day, the quiz and homework don’t matter. None of those scores really mean anything or count anywhere. But what does matter is whether we care about and think about other people, or if the only thoughts in our heads are about ourselves.