A couple weeks ago, Bria came home very happy about her Social Studies test.
“Mrs. T said that I had nice essays!” she told me.
Later, when I actually looked at the test, I saw she had received a C-, which normally would make my perfectionistic-since-birth daughter very upset.
I asked Bria if she was okay with the C- and she nodded with a big smile on her face. “Because I had nice essays,” she said.
I have to admit, I was a little bit worried about letting the grade go and not worrying about it myself. But I absolutely did not want to rain on her parade when I saw that her confidence about school was at a much higher level than usual. So, I left it alone and never mentioned it again.
She had another Social Studies test today. Normally, when we study for this subject, she gets frustrated because she really sees no practical need to know how our government works, or what the capitals of the states are. Therefore, it is hard for her to even retain the information because she has no idea how to apply it to her own 5th grade life.
Anyway, when we studied for her test last night, she wasn’t frustrated at all. In fact, she was actually excited about it. And then Joel quizzed her more this morning before school and she was amazing.
Now, I don’t know for sure what the larger lesson to be learned here is, but I think it might go something like this: When we focus on the things that we do well, instead of the ones we don’t, our confidence will go up. And once our confidence is up, we’ll actually do better on the other things anyway.
This is not how I live my life, generally. I’m really, really good at looking at that C- and saying, “so what if I had nice essays? I didn’t get an A! My life is over!!!” or, more commonly, “so what if I got most of my list done today? I failed to do laundry! I am the worst mother ever!!!!”
Maybe if I looked at my list and noticed all the great things I did accomplish, the undone things wouldn’t matter. And maybe if I’m okay with not doing some things perfectly, or at all, it will be easier to do better the next time.
What a revelation!
We’ll see if I can actually apply it to my life.
(And I’m sorry if I’m beating the perfection horse to the ground. It’s definitely on my mind, though, what can I say?)(Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ll have more to say tomorrow.)(So stay tuned.)
Well well. I think you are absolutely right. That's a concept I've never quite gotten.
I wish I could get an "A" in dieting. What kind of positive reinforcement will help me there? 😉
I have had a similar epiphany. When I try to do things 'perfectly', I only guarantee that I'll do them LESS than perfect. The harder I try to BE perfect, the less perfect I become.
Amazing how those little ones can teach US so much! I hope she does GREAT on her test!
This is a growing thought in my life. I'm trying to embrace the fact that I can't be perfect but it's hard to believe it sometimes. I loved what you said about confidence growing when we know we're good at one thing and that good spills into other things. Now I've just got to find the ONE thing! 😉
I really like these thoughts. Thanks.
I get an "F" in laundry nearly every day. And toilets. I suck at cleaning toilets. I can't do it without the end result being a tirade against all males, and so my husband cleans them.
And I am so okay with that.
I love this!! Thanks, just for the record… I get an "F" in dusting everyday and I don't really care…. well, maybe I should at least try to bring my grade up to a C 🙂
I need you to keep talking about perfectionism. You're helping me in ways you can't even imagine.
And I've been auditing the laundry class for years. It's the only chance my family has.
Way to liken your child's experiences to yourself. 🙂 That is an excellent thought. Focus on the positive and there will be more of it. Totally true.
I love learning stuff from my kids. I need to recognize these things more often. Good for Bria!
What a great teacher! Even though her grade wasn't the best, he was still able to find something she did well… I wonder why we beat ourselves up so much for not being that mythical super woman. Amazing the things we can learn from children, isn't it?
I love this.
I need, need, need to get this through my head. Because more often than not even if did a really great job cleaning the house or whatever all I can see is what I didn't do instead of everything I accomplished.
I hope Bria did well on her test!
I'm sitting here next to a 3 foot high pile of laundry that I shoved to the side in order to sit down with my lap-top and read blogs… but I do have really nice essays right?
I hate being a perfectionist because I am so imperfect. It stinks. Lowering the bar is so much more comfortable.
eek! I'm afraid of 5th grade now!
Is perfectionism a disease? I swear it's so rampant, it's scary.
Today I got an F in laundry, and I'm really okay with that. Mostly because I kept up on it most of the week.
Gotta work on being okay in other areas.
I'm sooooo bad about this one. My kids can bring home kajillions of great grades, and I harp on them about the one that's not all that great. Sigh. I've tried to change and I've tried…and I'm still trying.
That is a great lesson- for ourselves and for teaching our little ones. Focusing on the positive can go a long way.
I try to remember this when I start to feel the "I'm a terrible mother/homemaker/wife" panic coming on.
What a great attitude – both of you! I know I have a hard time with things when I can't imagine how they'd apply in my life. So, when we can let things go that aren't important to our spirtuality – like laundry – and focus on the more important matters – like our children's esteem in themselves – that's what it is about this post that inspries me.
Excellent insight and lesson. Being "okay" with ourself is really hard, but it is vital to our emotional well-being.
I love this wise and wonderful post. And, as a teacher, I am so grateful that you let your daughter revel in her feeling of success. I can tell you for certain that her good feeling about socials studies and her own success is far more important to her growth and learning than an A. FAR more.
I love how you have reminded me to apply this truth to my own life, too. Thank you again.
I need all the confidence boosting and perfection shielding thoughts you can offer so this post is fabulous!!! It's been a while since I've been over to read and am catching up now but I'm SO glad I did…I needed your "messages" today!! Thanks!
I had to let go of my perfectionism a long time ago. It's a very liberating act. There are definitely times when we need to embrace mediocrity in the face of excelling at something more important.
Don't you love it when you get these little epiphanies from your kids?