We had Declan’s first parent teacher conference of 1st grade this week. It didn’t go all that great by normal standards, but here’s the funny thing – I am thrilled. See, Declan definitely got the “I Have To Be Perfect” gene from me. We have watched him start to pressure himself in all things, and my heart has broke apart for him just a little bit the whole time. Sure, it’s nice that everyone thinks we have this perfectly behaved child, but it’s another thing entirely when you watch your kid twist himself in knots before he’s even 5 years old. Poor thing.
It has taken me years of therapy to chill this attitude out in myself, and there it was, rearing it’s ugly head unbidden in my next generation.
The only thing we could do is encourage him to not worry so much, not take everything so seriously, and just r-e-l-a-x. Have fun. His dad is good at that part.
So, when both teachers from first grade (they split up reading and math) started off with laundry list of things Declan could work on, including listening more, sitting still more, and not goofing off with his best friend so much… it was honestly hard for me not to laugh.
After we talked about the things that Declan could work on – and then of course the things he is doing well on, they did eventually get around to that part – and WOOT, my kid has stoopid wicked awesome brainz! – I asked Declan to wait outside for a minute.
I explained all the perfectionism we had been fighting. How his friend was so good for him because he was a good, nice kid who treated him well – as opposed to some early friends who basically viewed Declan as a servant. That, given Declan is the youngest in the class, we nearly held him back from Kindergarten because we were scared he was not fitting in socially. And while we would never undermine her authority, we weren’t too upset to hear he was goofing off a bit.
She was absolutely stunned by our description of Declan’s first few years in school. Shocked.
She said, “I never would have guessed.”