12.01.2009

The Perfectionist

As I mentioned yesterday, the Ha house is completely decked out in Christmas attire. A never-ending stream of Christmas music is playing, and I am finding myself practically bursting with the holiday spirit. I love this time of year.

The boy is in full-tilt Christmas mode as well. He spent the better part of the weekend parked beneath the tree, playing with the train that encircles the base. He loves the little puffs of smoke that drift from the engine's smokestack.

The train has provided numerous opportunities for the boy to create new and exciting games to play with some of his favorite toys. The latest involves arranging two squadrons of army men so that they can battle over a nuclear warhead that is being smuggled on the train.

I like this game better than the one where he rearranges all of the Christmas houses. All I can say is, thank God for super glue.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but my son is not a champion of patience. On more than one occasion, he was nearly reduced to tears because "the stupid army men" kept falling over.

After one especially frustrating topple, the boy exclaimed, "I just want everything to be perfect all the time!" There it was... the one thing that I had long suspected, but had never confirmed.

My boy is a self-proclaimed perfectionist.

Before the army succumbed to a vicious thrashing, I asked the boy if he would talk with me. As we sat curled up together on the sofa, he explained how discouraging it feels when things don't go according to his best-laid plans.

I assured him that I understood how he feels.

I then gently reasoned that life is rarely perfect. Yes, his life will be filled with what I hope will be countless amazing moments, but the majority of life is messy. He will endure conflict, have to negotiate roadblocks and put up with all manner of frustrations over the course of his lifetime. It is just part of being human.

I was able to tell my dirt-digging, tree-climbing, nature-loving boy of a time, not so long ago, when he would burst into tears if his hands got dirty. Out of desperation, I told my then eighteen-month-old to simply wipe his hands on his shirt. It worked like a charm. The child has been using his shirt as a napkin ever since.

In the same way that he used to be traumatized by dirty hands, he has been frustrated by his constant fight against the general messiness of life and his desire for things to be perfect.

I urged my boy to give up the struggle... To embrace the turmoil... To wipe his frustrations on his shirt, so to speak. We talked about how changing his expectations might not alter the outcome, but that it would do wonders for his
general outlook.

After sitting silently for a few minutes, the boy looked up at me. "I would probably enjoy stuff a lot more if I didn't get all worked up about silly things," he pondered. I agreed. He then asked me to pray and ask God send a little help in his direction.

My ultimate prayer is that the boy learns to choose his battles. That he would be able to let all of the silly frustrations go and focus his energy on fighting for things that are really important. I know this is much easier said than done, especially when you are only eight.

In all honesty, I never dreamed I would be having such deep and grown-up conversations with my third grader. He is constantly surprising me by his insight and wisdom when it comes to concepts generally reserved for a more mature crowd. God definitely broke the mold when He created this one.

If this is any indication, I believe that my boy is going to grow up to be a pretty amazing man. Not that I'm partial...

4 comment(s). Leave yours!:

Chelle said... Best Blogger Tips

You are a good mama.

Amazing young man indeed!

kathleen said... Best Blogger Tips

An amazing boy and equally amazing mother! Not that I'm partial either...

nana c said... Best Blogger Tips

God blessed the fabulous Ha family with a boy who understands concepts, has a fantastic vocabulary and thinks with wisdom beyond his years.

...I'm not partial either...

mshike said... Best Blogger Tips

Awesome blog!

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