We got an "energy savings report" from our electric company recently. It shows how energy efficient we are compared to our neighbors. If you consider we never owned a dishwasher and we are now living without a dryer, coffee maker, and other convenience appliances, it isn't hard to imagine that we scored a "Great" followed by two--yes, two!--smiley faces.
Did I fail to take that seriously? I thought I left the world of report cards behind a long time ago, but grades follow us through life. Think about it. There are job performance reviews; authors receive book reviews; businesses receive grades from several online review sites including the BBB; and we even get report cards after physicals (I'm always amazed when I hear parents brag about their child's percentile for height and weight). We are a nation that likes to grade and compare.
These grades and reviews are useful to a point. It is helpful to get ratings on the doctor you plan to use, unless someone completely trashes that doctor for a personal reason. I often read product reviews on Amazon and other online retailers that give one star because of a shipping problem. This tells me nothing about the product. Doing an online search of best places to eat in the area won't necessarily give you the best. It gives you the best that have been reviewed plus sponsored ads.
Grading is subjective, and yet we spend our lives competing for the best grades or beating ourselves up for being less than perfect. My parents never compared me to my siblings, but I still felt the
pressure to get the best grades possible. The grade became a measure of
my worth. I didn't want that for my children, so I spent a lot of time downplaying the required testing we did--and my youngest still does--for homeschooling. Still they felt the pressure to do well, and I only tested them once a year.
Now I'm getting graded on my energy efficiency. And even though I got a "Great" with two smiley faces, I wondered if I could have gotten three smiley faces. If you're an "A" student, the stress is worse because the only way to go is down. It's impossible to be perfecter than perfect, and if everyone else improves, your score goes down by default, so it still feels like you are doing worse even if you maintain your level of perfection. See how crazy that is? That's a glimpse into my head. Which is why I never graded my homeschooled children. Because their grades reflect on me, which makes their grades my grades, and the person I compete the most with is myself.