Complete 180

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.”


This article has 11 comments

  1. BethanyWD

    Wow, what an interesting interpretation. It really shows your understanding and empathy as a parent that you can see the WHOLE picture in terms of Declan’s growth (both in intelligence and emotionally).

    We just had my son’s first conference EVER (he is in kindergarten) and I am still figuring out what it all mes (for him and for me!).

    I love hearing all thee insights for parents who have “been there”!

  2. The Fi in Photografi

    I find it truly amazing how a child can take on a parent’s/parents’ personality traits just like inheriting blue eyes or brown hair. Genes are an incredily powerful force huh.

    I’ve had to come to terms with the forgetfulness, the daydreaming and the whole “away with the fairies” personality that is our daughter – and empathise with the frustration my practical, down to earth mother
    went through having to deal with me as a child!

    Anyway, I’m sure Declan will shine. He’s bound to.

  3. Every Day Goddess

    At least you understand the perfectionism gene. My daughter has it also and I am hard pressed to help her make it through. The worry part is so hard!! Funny we just had our school conferences also and had to talk about her perfectionism issues.

  4. Anonymous

    good for him!!!

  5. Ashleigh

    That kid is so cool. Glad that you are getting him to relax and not be such a perfectionist. I’m a perfectionist because of my dad and now try being ok with life’s messes. So far so good.


  6. MB

    LOVE it. Go Declan. We don’t ever need to set the same goals for all kids. He’s blooming!

  7. beeeeeeeee

    Whoo hoo – fight that evil perfectionist!

    How cool that his teacher was able to hear you.

  8. mothergoosemouse

    Yeah. I had the same questions last year in kindergarten and this year in first grade – forget academics, tell me how she’s doing socially.

    Not surprised at all that Declan is doing just fine. He’s such a great kid.

  9. carrie

    Ah yes, the parent-teacher conference.

    You let him come with you? I made mine sit in chairs up near the school office so they couldn’t hear. I’m kinda mean that way.

    He’s going to be fine.

  10. Nat

    If I may say, it’s sounds like he is, at the very least, like he is having fun.

    As an aside, my first parent-teacher meeting in SK did not go so smoothly. She basically accused me of not having an books at home because he couldn’t read — (The Boy has more books than I do, and he’s one of the young ones as well.) I explain that I was paying for school, and that one the three Rs is reading, ergo, this is her job. She was not happy. (I have issues with teachers.)

  11. Bridge

    Its such a fine balance. First knowing your child so well and being able to look at what teacher’s say as a piece of the puzzle without stressing out. Second, (the part that has always been hard for me) listening to them without going into “defense mode” and really hearing their professional opinion. They spend so many hours with my child, its rally valuable. Depending on the teacher, it can be easy or torture.
    Good Luck, your boy looks like he’s pretty amazing!

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