Monday, April 11, 2011

Progress Not Perfection

I usually try to stay positive and share funny things and crafty tidbits here on our blog but today's post is something I've been ruminating and pondering on for a few days. I just can't seems to figure it out and don't know how to change it. So this is my attempt to get it all down and try to make some sense of it.

Progress not perfection. That has become my mantra in my adult life. I have always struggled with the idea that somehow I am supposed to be perfect, do everything right and never make mistakes. While I know that this is not realistic or even possible, I have never been able to fully let go of this idea. I do not have this expectation of others. As a matter of fact I am very forgiving and understanding of the mistakes of others, after all they are only human! But try as I might I can't accept this idea for myself. Yes, I know this is my own crazy issue! It's one that I usually try to keep hidden but it's come to the surface this week. When Nature Girl was born I learned to let go of some of my internal need to be perfect. She was fussy and had to be held 24 hours a day. I couldn't do things to my previous standard so I learned to let go a little. Apparently not enough!

It seems that Nature Girl has inherited a bit of this perfectionism. Her report card came home last week. Students are graded on this scale: S- = standard not met, S = standard met, and S+ = exceeds standard. Nature Girl's report card was all S and S+ with the exception of two little areas that were S-. Both areas are skills that just require a little bit more rote practice, which we will ensure she gets. My husband and I were pleased with her report card. We praised her as we reviewed it together. When she saw the first S- she started to cry. I felt so terrible!!! To see her so upset about it was heart breaking! She's just in first grade. It is not our expectation that her report card be perfect but it seems to be her expectation. She has always been a child that does not like to be wrong, make mistakes or lose( I wonder where is got that from?!!).

So this leads me to wonder is perfectionism a trait that is inherited? How can I teach her from a young age to stop reaching for something that is a myth and is never possible to achieve? Better yet how do I teach myself that so I can teach her? Being motivated and ambitious is not a bad thing but feeling terrible when you haven't done something perfect, even when that something very small, is a bad thing! I don't want her to struggle through life with this. Somehow I need to remember the mantra - "Progress not perfection." - and teach her as well. So how do I do that? Telling her that she's not perfect and we don't expect her to be isn't enough. We've already been doing that so it's time for a new plan. I just haven't figured it out what that plan is yet. Wish us luck!