2011-04-21

On Being Perfect

No...not me...I am not perfect, will never be perfect, and am perfectly ok with that.
What we are dealing with these days is teaching our boys, Tommy especially, that it takes time and effort to learn how to do anything, that through our failures we learn how to succeed.  We are seeing anger and tears when a task cannot be completed to perfection on the very first try. 

We saw a hint of this frustration at soccer in the fall, the desire to be perfect without the skillset to match, but Tommy's overall joy in just running around and kicking the ball out weighed this desire. Sadly in t-ball there is more opportunity to reflect on what you haven't yet mastered, and more chances to decide that you are no good, that you can't win, and, therefore, that you shouldn't play anymore. (cue the tears). 

So now here we are, my husband and I, trying to coach Tommy through it all. Watching from the sidelines as his little face crumbles and the tears fall because he couldn't catch the ball like some of his team mates.  Part of me wants to just scoop up my unhappy little boy, hold him tight, and tell him he never needs to play again...but I know in the end that will do him no good.  The logical parent in me takes over, and with my husband we gently guide Tommy through the tears, let him know that its ok to not get it right on the first try and its ok to be upset, but we don't let him quit. Feeling like mean parents, we wipe his tears (and his nose) and let the coach bring him back up to the tee, we yell and clap and cheer as he tries to hit the ball, and on his third try, when he hits it past the pitchers mound we cheer even louder, not because he hit it so far, but because he kept trying until he got it.  We celebrate every little accomplishment with him, everything, from hitting the ball off the tee, to finishing his first game and trying his hardest. 

After the game, there were more tears, as Tommy reflected on what he did not accomplish, how he wasn't perfect. So we talked, we showed him the big kids playing, let him see that not everyone catches the ball everytime, no one hits the ball everytime, but they just keep trying.  We tell him how proud we are that he went out there and played, and give him even bigger hugs. We promise that we will practice with him and help him learn how to do these things.  We walk away, knowing that next week might be a repeat or it might be better.


And with this game, my husband and I have realized, that we have reached a very important stage in Tommy's development. We must teach him that it isn't about being perfect, but its about trying and doing the best he can.  And we hope these lessons that he is learning in soccer and in t-ball, the importance of working with others, and trying his best stays with him as he grows and tries new things, especially when Mommy and Daddy aren't there to hold him.

5 comments:

  1. Oh how I can relate!

    And recalling myself encouraging Itty Bit to try again and again - makes me wonder just how many times I give up on things because I don't get it right the first time too.

    (By the way - my kiddo got a hit tonight... and promptly ran all the way to first base, and dropped the bat on it there, LOL!)

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  2. What wonderful lessons you are teaching Tommy! You are so right...absolutely no one is perfect. We tried to teach our sons the same lessons. What great parents you are!

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  3. With so much emphasis in our society on winning and being the winner - it really is hard to teach our kids that it's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. Or that it's OK to not be the best all the time. Good for you for trying to teach him these things!

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  4. What an excellent post. I appreciate the insight!!!

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  5. I have a perfectionist who is so good at so many things...but she is so hard on herself when she even thinks she might fail. I am not sure at all how to help her with this. It is hard because you encourage & sometimes they are just hard on themselves. It is a learning process for sure.
    Tommy is so cute in that picture. Growing like a weed.

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