Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 19 Photo: Imperfect

Today’s blog entry itself is imperfect, because I am cheating. I am cheating because I am posting a video instead of a photograph. A photo could not quite do this story justice, so please bear with me.

One of the hardest things for me as a mother is to let my kids do things themselves that they can’t really do yet. For example, my son is learning to put on his own socks, and they often end up either inside out or only half-on with the toes dragging on the floor. But he is so proud that he has done it all by himself that I have to bite my tongue and let his socks be. Or when he helps to wipe off the kitchen table when I’m getting dinner ready, and it ends up even stickier than it was when he started, and I need to force myself to thank him and wait until he’s out of sight to fix it.

If I never let him do anything imperfectly, he’ll never learn to do anything at all. If every time he tries something new, I tell him that he’s doing it wrong, or I fix it for him, he’ll get discouraged and convince himself that he can’t do anything. So we’re both learning to be happy with imperfect for now, and leave learning to do things perfectly until later.

Today I saw a beautiful example of his imperfection. He’d been helping his daddy fill our water jugs at the spigot near our campsite, and today when Daddy asked if he wanted to help get water, he announced that he could do it himself. So my husband laughed a bit to himself, handed him a plastic pitcher, and sent him on his way, expecting to hear a plaintive voice calling, “Um, Dada, can you come help me?” in a minute. But to our surprise, he came back a few minutes later, very solemnly and carefully carrying a pitcher about one-third full of water. We weren’t sure how he’d managed it, so the next time we needed water and he volunteered to get it, Daddy surreptitiously followed him with a video camera. This is the result.

We could have told him he wasn’t big enough to get water by himself yet. We could have told him we needed to help him. We could have told him we needed more water than he could get. But then we would have missed out on seeing that determined expression on his face as he carefully navigated around roots to avoid spilling his precious cargo, and his look of triumph as he handed it over. Sometimes, imperfect is way more than good enough.

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