I’m a self-confessed perfectionist. If I know something I’m doing can be improved I struggle to leave it alone, and I love looking for ways to improve!
Thankfully when I was a child, I was blessed with teachers who were not perfectionists. They gave me credit where credit was due, encouraged me to keep learning without feeling the need to keep moving the bar every time it got within reach.
My four year old was handing out stickers yesterday and later on a friend asked my husband what he got his sticker for. We joked about the usual things our children learn to do for themselves – getting dressed, feeding themselves, going to the toilet on their own.
I never thought about it in terms of learning to cast our own vision, recognising our capabilities and celebrating our achievements. Even as we become adults, if we don’t set the bar, someone else will.
My husband once aced an exam, got all the answers correct, and was given a mark of 98%. When he asked why, the answer was “well no one gets 100%” and he found a missing semi-colon to account for the missing 2%. On the same note, another phrase we often hear is “there’s always room for improvement.”
We think of ‘perfection’ as this pinnacle of flawless completion. A holy grail that everything eventually falls short of.
So here’s the thing. My son drives me bonkers with his selective hearing and machine-gun interrogation. My daughter wakes at 5am and sticks to my hips even more than chocolate. They’ve both yet to learn patience (take after me perhaps?) and together the two are experts in the art of audio warfare. They are by no means flawless, and there’s plenty of room for growth, in every sense of the word. And when I look at them, I know without doubt or hesitation, they are absolutely perfect.
In fact if they were flawless, always polite and mild-mannered, got everything right first time, ate everything I put in front of them – well that would just be wrong. Like a face that’s had too much plastic surgery.
So maybe perfection does exist, just not in the lack of fault, but in something else entirely.