Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Perfection is a bitch. I always felt the need to meet these expectation (and still do). It was great to a point. I played all the sports, and excelled in all of them. I had a city record in track for the 1800 meter, and never lost a race in the mile. All the adults in my life were pushing me to the Junior Olympics in middle school. I finally crumbed under the pressure. There was one race I just couldn't run. The only mile I didn't win in my high school career. It was a horrible feeling. I never want my daughter to feel that type of pressure. Being competitive is one thing. Being pressured to win for others is different.

I have always had a competitive streak in me. I played club soccer, volleyball, basketball, and track. I did it all, and I did it at a high level. Pressure.

Now I have my daughter. I don't want her to feel that crushing pressure. I want her to compete if that's what she chooses to do. I want her to strive to be her best, but not at her own expense.

I have been becoming more and more aware of her need to do things "perfectly." While I appreciate her intentions, I'm trying to figure out a way for her to understand it's not about being perfect. It's about trying new things, learning from experiences, or enjoying an activity. This need to be perfect is making homework so frustrating. This is kindergarten homework y'all! KINDERGARTEN! She has to write her site words, and once a week she illustrates an activity and writes a three sentence summary on it. Now mind you, she does excellent at school. She has fabulous handwriting and reading skills. She also turned six two days after school started. Therefore, she's one of the oldest in her class with two years of pre-k under her belt. During the writing portion of her homework, she erases the letters in almost every word in order to do them a little better, and they're great to start with. It's driving me cray-cray! I try to explain to her there is nothing wrong with the way she did it the first time, and it's actually harder to read after she erases it a few times. What do I do? How do I make her understand? She says "I want it to be perfect!" God, I hate that word.

Then it happens.

I pick her up from school on Thursdays and Fridays. She always runs our and says "I got a red!" Meaning that she got a frowny face at school for the day, and I of coarse play along knowing that's not true. This Friday, she came to the car with teary eyes, and a heavy heart. She told me she got a yellow. I could see the look in her eyes, but for some reason still thought she was joking. She is such a people pleaser. Especially her teacher. But I knew. She wasn't kidding. She got a yellow. This was heartbreaking for her. It happened early in the day, and it ruined her whole day. I was so sad. Her face wrecked me. Her offense...sharpening her pencil. AFTER. The teacher told her not too (probably because she used all the damn lead to rewrite her assignment over and over). I can handle that. At least it wasn't something really horrible. Of coarse, not listening to the teacher is not a good thing. But, it's not like she stabbed someone with the pencil. That is totally frowned on. I regress. So I pull over after leaving the pick up line. I try to reassure her that I'm not mad at her, but reiterate how important it is to follow the rules and listen to the teacher. She broke down crying and began telling me she thought I was going to be mad at her, and I was going to take all her toys away. You know, cause that's how I roll. What the what? Of coarse I wouldn't do that on a first offense. Plus that sounds like a lot of work. She's got way to many toys for me to take them all away. After talking for a few minutes, we got some hugs in and even a smile. I could see this weight she had been carrying around for the last four hours melt away.

Looking back on this now, I'm actually glad it happened. We've got to find a balance. I realize her mission to be perfect will hurt her just as it did me. But how do I do this? How do I teach her it's ok to fail. She doesn't have to be perfect? Some of the best lessons come from not being afraid to put yourself out there, and not having to be "perfect." Do you struggle with this? How would you handle this?


  1. Well put - a 'minor offense' got everything out! :)

  2. I was much like your daughter as a little girl - I always wanted to do the right thing and would never have done something wrong on purpose. I think I was easier on my parents than my brother (who was much more the class clown type) but growing up, I had to deal with my own issues of legalism, and my trying to be perfect sometimes morphed into me thinking I was perfect... My little brother had in easier on that account... his elementary school teachers made sure he never thought he was perfect. ;)

  3. I can relate to the woes of being a perfectionist! My children also suffer from wanting to be perfect, which leads to a lot of frustration and melt-downs. I think it helps to keep reminding kids that it's okay not to be perfect not only during times they "don't succeed" at something, but also when they do do it perfectly. When they're not upset at themselves, it might be easier to take in what you have to say: "wow, you did a great job doing such and such, but even if you did such and such, it would still be great because I simply love your work." I think I've literally said to my kids a million times, "it's okay." Literally.