So…one of my kids was in trouble today. A problem on the bus that I was notified of. Not a really big deal, but certainly something I needed to address. And I did.
It left me thinking of a time, years ago, when my boy started school. I remember sending him off on the first day of school. He was clean, bright, and eager. I remember thinking how privileged I was to have this amazing boy who always sought to please me. I beamed as I watched this good, good boy enter his classroom ready to learn.
To my dismay, he came home at the end of the day with an office report, or FYI, in his backpack. It stated that he tried to choke another boy. He had his hands wrapped around another boy’s neck.
My clean, bright, eager boy wasn’t as perfect as I wanted him to be. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I was shocked, upset, embarrassed.
In tears, I called one of my teaching colleagues. My mentor. A seasoned teacher whom I adored. I wanted parenting advice. I wanted her to tell me what I did wrong with him. I wanted her to tell me how to make him perfect.
She didn’t put some false hope in my head. Instead, she told me the opposite of what I wanted to hear.
She told me that I don’t want a perfect child. She told me perfect children, who never engage in any wrongdoings, would never learn to problem solve. They would never grow from experiences. She told me children needed to have these occasional setbacks to make them better. They needed to be bad, sometimes, to learn the reasons to be good.
I cannot tell you how this advice helped me. This advice turned a mother who overreacted to his wrongdoings, into a mother who turned problems into life lessons. This mother who once worried about her children being naughty, turned into a mother who enjoyed the challenge of teaching her children to be better through their mistakes.
What did this do? It took the pressure off me. It soothed me. It helped me help them.
I often think about how my parenting was changed through this wonderful lady and her wise advice.
I have used her wonderful words when I have encountered exasperated parents who, like me, were upset that their children weren’t perfect. I hope I helped them, the way my friend helped me.
Turn problems into lessons. Turn the bad into the better.
Because…nothing good… comes out of being perfect.