Monday, September 17, 2012

Mommy Mondays: my perfectionist child


Since am focusing on motherhood now, I decided to start a new series: Mommy Mondays. I envision talking about anything and everything related to motherhood.

First up, let me talk about my perfectionist child. For the longest time, Noah went through reams and reams of paper within a few months because he would start to draw and when it wasn't perfect, he would discard the sheet of paper and reach for a new one. Using an eraser was unthinkable for him. His standards were very high too. He would get frustrated (even angry) when he couldn't draw what he wanted, the way he wanted. I remember several instances when he wanted to draw people like say, Ben 10, and he would get really upset when his drawing didn't look like a real person with 3D depth - even though, in my opinion, it did look exactly like Ben 10 and my 5-year-old drew it way better than grown-up-me ever could. At school, he wasn't satisfied with stamps of Top Effort on his worksheets. He needed to get a stamp that read Perfect.

I realized that the earliest sign of this perfectionist tendency was when he was 2, maybe 3, years old and he & his cousin were working on their Copy & Color coloring books. He got so upset when his cousin colored Oscar the Grouch orange. For him, the only correct color was green. And now that I got to thinking of early signs, I wonder if his old obsession of buttoning his sportshirts all the way up to his neck was a sign? Could it be that to him, all buttons needed to be buttoned?

Late last year, when the signs were much more obvious, I started being more conscious of my language around him. I took out the word "perfect" from my vocabulary and replaced it with "excellent". Every now and then, I told him it was okay to make mistakes and I would even make mistakes on purpose then laugh at myself. I also hid my neurotic tendencies.

And he has come a long way since then. Now, 7-year-old Noah gladly uses an eraser and is comfortable using the back of his sheet of paper. He now knows how to laugh at his mistakes and no longer gets upset with less-than-perfect test scores. He is now comfortable using non-transparent tape as you can see with all the black electric tape in his super-paper-power crafts here. His attention-to-detail is still apparent. Just now, we were viewing a home video on my laptop and he pointed out that it was "tabingi" [lopsided]. He was right, but it was very, very slightly lopsided - hardly noticeable! He also got a bit upset when I gave him one of my airplane-freebie eyemasks because his assignment notebook read "Bring a handkerchief (to be used as blindfold)". He insisted he bring a handkerchief because that's what it said in his notebook. 

Yes, more motherly molding is still required from me. But I am proud of how far he's come. After all, perfection is overrated. Excellence is awesome enough.

Photo from heritage.    

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