make it better
Once a week, on Fridays, Bee has homework.
Just a few weeks into the school year, she figured out that the most efficient and reliable way to ensure that she remembered to do it was to do it immediately after she got home from school on Fridays.
Bee makes her bed (almost) every morning. She is the only member of the household who does that. She knows how to scramble an egg, braid her hair and feed the pets.
In short, she knows how to get things done, and how to get them done right. The operable word there is ``right.’’
Bee was born a person who knows How Things Should Be Done. We were blessed, when we traveled to China for her adoption, to have met the woman who cared for her for the first 12 months of her life. She told us when we met her that Bee ``made me go to the store to get her candy every day, even if it was raining.’’
So, not only does she know How Things Should Be Done, she also knows how to work a less-thanideal situation to her advantage. She says she wants to be a teacher when she grows up, but we call her, lovingly, Our Little CEO.
A possibly bright career track is the upside of being able to see the straightest path from A to B. The darker, more anguishing side is a tendency for perfectionism.
There is nothing quite as frustrating as being able to conceive in crystal detail the way something should work, and yet being utterly helpless to make it happen that way.
It would be like watching helplessly as your tonedeaf mother auditioned for ``American Idol’’ in a tube top and parachute pants. Maddening. Utterly, unspeakably maddening.
That is what every moment can be like for a true perfectionist.
And when perfectionism becomes the filter through which you view the world, you have only two choices: fight what seems a futile fight to make things perfect, or give up.
That’s the last thing I want for my girl. So, as her mom, I try to walk that fine line between encouraging her to stretch beyond her known abilities, and pushing her into the realm of giving up.
A couple weeks ago, our friend Tobi offered to teach Bee to knit.
Instantly, my stomach tightened in anticipation of the inevitable meltdown that would accompany learning to do something that is difficult even for adults who are adept at hand-crafts.
To complicate matters, Tobi was going to teach her to knit in continental fashion, as opposed to the allegedly easier American method, because that is how she was taught.
I literally held my breath as Tobi and Bee pulled out the knitting needles and pale lavender yarn to begin their project.
Bee sat in Tobi’s lap, watching intently as Tobi’s adept fingers cast a row of stitches onto the large needle. ``In, around, out and over,’’ Tobi chanted, as she showed Bee the stitches.
Bee took the needles into her own hand, while Tobi kept charge of the yarn, guiding it around the needle and through the new stitches as Bee added them, one-by-one, to the growing line of stitches she was creating. With every row, she grew more enthusiastic. I cheered her on, but inwardly dreaded even more the crash that would come from the first mistake, the first dropped stitch, or her first attempt at a row stitches by herself.
I didn’t have to wait very long, as Tobi advanced Bee through the learning process and gave her control of not only the needles but the yarn as well. Smiling, Bee repeated Tobi’s chant of ``In, around, out and over. In, around, out and over,’’ she whispered as she did her best to turn two big metal needles and a string of yarn into something entirely new.
Then, it happened. A dropped stitch. A dreaded mistake. A perfect opportunity to chuck it all and swear off knitting altogether. But Tobi, God bless her, did not miss a beat.
``Oh, that’s okay,’’ she reassured my daughter.
``Those little mistakes are what lets everyone know it’s handmade.’’
So the next day, and the day after that, and the week after that, when my perfectionist little girl dropped a couple of stitches while practicing her new favorite hobby, she just shrugged. ``That’s how you know it’s handmade,’’ she told me.
In the end, it’s the imperfections that connect us. Don’t try to eliminate all of them.
Elizabeth Trever Buchinger meant to drop that stitch. You can connect with her at www.moremindfulfamily. blogspot.com or email her at VillageWordsmith@gmail. com.
make it better
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- Taking risks and getting out of my comfort zone