Today was Kindergarten Fun Day. School lets out on Friday for summer break, and everyone is pretty much done. The teachers. The students. The parents. Done. Y’all, today I bribed my child to leave after a half day of school. He wanted to stay, but I just couldn’t will myself to do the whole carpool ordeal this afternoon. He’s now watching a movie. At home. In the middle of carpool time. It totally seemed like a win-win situation to me, but he’s still acting like a victim and I’m just SO CONFUSED. Don’t all kids everywhere love leaving school early? Isn’t what they live for?
Apparently not if you’re Mr. “Perfect Perfectionist”.
To launch today’s Fun Day, the kids were each awarded an individualized “fun award”. Leave it to my child to receive the perfectionist award. Does it surprise me? No. A few months ago, his teacher approached me to tell me that he wrote “poop” in large letters on the top of one of his papers. What I didn’t expect to follow was “…and we were thrilled! He’s always so focused and serious. We’re happy to know he can let loose a little.”
Still, I had a twinge of sadness when I saw that paper announcing that “WOW! Carson is a perfect perfectionist!!”. Because I get it. The apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree and ugh, I JUST SO GET IT. Learning how to handle my perfectionist tendencies has been a sort of a chronic issue for me. Even as a young student, I always prided myself in how hard I worked and in the subsequent accolades. In college, my desire for both perfection and control culminated in a really painful season. But as I’ve written about before, God was gracious to me in using that season not for my harm but to draw me into a more profound understanding of who he is and who I am in him.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with striving for excellence. I’m ridiculously proud of Carson and his achievements this year and how hard he works. And I praise God for creating him exactly the way he is, perfectionist tendencies and all. Still, nothing drives you to your knees faster than when you recognize something in one of your children that you wrestle with yourself.
I’m sure Carson will do awesome things with his life. But my prayer for each of my children- Type A, Type B, perfectionist, and good-enougher alike- is that they would find their identities and worth not in the many things they will surely accomplish but in what was already accomplished for them on the cross through Jesus. That the failures that will inevitably come would not devastate them but would rather leave them ever more grateful for the hope and freedom found in the gospel.
And after I pray these things for my children, I pray them for myself. Because, let’s be real, I still have a long way to go.