The Closely-Guarded Secret to 2nd Grade Success

The Closely-Guarded Secret to 2nd Grade Success

I just came home from my 8th and final parent-teacher orientation for second grade.
At the meeting (which I already heard a few years ago when my oldest son had the same rabbi and teacher that my youngest has now) I was computing how old I was when I attended my very first parent-teacher orientation (answer: 33) And whether at 50 I was the oldest parent in attendance (answer: Not sure. There was one other mother who looked pretty old. Wait, do I look that old too?!)
Wow, I marveled, I cannot believe I am STILL doing this!
I’ve got a daughter finishing university, another starting university, another in the IDF, another checking out her options for National Service. I’ve got big kids dealing with big issues and life decisions and all the complicated and occasionally heart-crushing mother-child dynamics that come along with them.
About half-way through her spiel Morah Leah reminded us how important it is to practice reading. And the importance of sending our boys with a morning snack (“they are only 7, it’s hard for them to wait until 10:15 for the first meal break!”)
And then, Morah Leah paused and her face lit up: “But, if there is one thing I could tell you tonight, and you would take it to heart, just this one thing, I would know that this Parent-Teacher meeting was a success!”
That dramatic declaration shook me out of my age-guessing revery. Morah Leah continued, “That one thing would be to make sure that your sons come to school every day with three sharpened pencils. THREE. A child without a pencil is completely lost. You can’t compare a child with a pencil to a child without a pencil. Success begins with those 3 sharpened pencils in his pencil case.”
And when I heard that, about the 3 sharpened pencils, it felt like a blast of pure Eden air
Little kids, little problems. A squirt of whipped cream in my increasingly complicated mothering life. What a blessing.


  1. Wow, what a refreshing post!
    Last week my youngest child (age 11) was listening to her classmates compare their mothers. several of the mothers are 31. my daughter sat and listened as other girls boasted that they had “old” mothers– 38, 43, and even 48! my daughter just sat there and smiled. then she said, “my mother is older than that. she’s 60.” and the whole group exclaimed, “wow! she’s older than my grandmother!” and other such comments. then my daughter said, “And your mothers are younger than my oldest sister. so i could really be your aunt.” when my daughter reported this conversation to me, I wondered how she felt about having such an old mommy. I didn’t need to worry. My daughter said she’s proud to have the oldest Mommy in the class!
    so there’s no need to worry about being an old Mommy. I may not be as trendy and fit as the other mothers, but I do have tons of Mommy experience, which I hope has helped hone my Mommying skills to be the best Mommy in the class.

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