I don’t know where she gets it… ahem… but Laylee’s showing herself to be quite the perfectionist. She is an uncompromising stickler for detail which causes high quality but low output, inconvenient if she plans to earn her keep down at the workhouse.
Although I love the fact that she can build an atomic bomb out of foam blocks if given a long enough “nap”, she gets easily frustrated and only makes half as many green paper aardvarks as the other kids in her preschool class. A few months ago, I noticed that she’d started measuring her responses to really simple questions to make sure she always gave the right answer.
Teacher: What does a horse say?
Laylee [looking around at the other kids silently]
Laylee [chiming in when she sees he’s getting a positive response from the teacher]: NEIGH!
She’s always been a smart kid, ahead in a lot of ways. It just made me sad to see her questioning herself and feeling so much pressure to be perfect. When we went in for her 4-year checkup, Doctor Holmes asked if I had any other questions.
We whispered back and forth as the kids created a blizzard with the tiny bits of paper they had ripped off the roll on the table. He gave me two pieces of advice that have really made a huge difference in Laylee’s confidence.
#1. Let myself make mistakes in front of her. Call her attention to them and then fix them, shrug them off and move on unfazed.
What I had been doing was mentioning when she made a mistake and telling her that it was no big deal and not to stress out about it. Holmes told me that what I was doing was just reinforcing that she had made a mistake and further ingraining her little failures into her psyche. I, the perfect adult, noticed that she, the pitiful insignificant child, had spilled her potatoes on the floor… oh… and in my beneficence I told her that it wasn’t a big deal… and not to freak out about it because freaking out is so freaking annoying.
Letting her see me drop my potatoes on the floor and say, “Woops! I had a little accident. No big deal. I’d better clean those up. So what story do you want to read?” teaches her by example that it’s okay.
#2. Sing songs that she knows well and substitute strange words. “Dancing Queen, young and green, only 2 years old.” This causes intense fits of laughter and the yelling of “NOOOOO!!!!” Then she tells me the real words and eventually starts singing songs creatively too. She is learning that mixing things up can be fun, that it’s okay to let loose every once in a while and that her mom has a really warped sense of humor.
She sang a strange song to me just today, spilled water all over my nicest piece of free furniture and wiped it up like it was just water spilled on a sofa table. So we’re making great progress.
There is no sweeter girl on the face of the planet and I want her to know that just by being who she is, she’s already perfect.
the reasons: fists full of dandelions, bleenkits, tulips, whispered “I love you”s