Yesterday, *N* (9) was measuring a box to make a loom (Why, yes, it was creative arts Sunday at our house, thank you for asking.;) ) and the Husband suggested he just place the measuring tape at the edge of the box so it would be easier. "But Dad," he snapped, "Then it won't be perfect! That edge is cracked!"
After we both picked our jaws up off the floor, I said, "I never realized he was a perfectionist, did you?" "No," the Husband responded,"He gets it from you, though."
Guilty. I don't try to be a perfectionist. I don't demand perfection from my children. Alas, I am a perfectionist who works very hard not to show her anxiety about being "less than perfect" even though I do not think anyone else should be. I am my own harshest critic, I do not have the energy (or the street cred) to judge another human. (I try to worry about the log in my own eye, which tends to block my view of anyone else's specks.)
So as I reflected on my offspring's' perfectionist tendencies, I thought of a sweet friend's explanation of a parenting book she is reading, about kids being sponges and observing our behavior and not just what we're intentionally trying to teach them.
I used to wonder why my 16 yo was so worried about another person's opinion of him, why he couldn't just be himself and proud of it, more self-conscious, it seems,than other kids his age. I spent so much energy when he was young trying to teach him those values...so he wouldn't be like me. I encouraged him to stack the stacking rings every which way, for goodness sake! I danced around the living room singing to him, "Life is not tried it is merely survived if you're standing outside the fire." (Thanks Garth Brooks. ;) )
I talked the talk, but how much did I walk the walk? How much did I try to avoid risk and possible rejection or embarrassment? How many times to I get anxious or frustrated by something less-than picture perfect; something perfectly fine but not picture perfect?
The children have been watching. You know that poem, "Children Learn What They Live"...yeah well, apparently, it's true.
Lord, I know that You can use my failures and imperfections for good. I just pray that my imperfect perfectionism won't hold my kids back from fully enjoying life. I need to walk the walk and I hope it's not too late to teach by example.