This morning, my seven year old dressed herself on her own. I didn’t realize how particular she was until she was two and refused to wear anything but dresses. At first it was acceptable to put a dress on over jeans or leggings, but then she insisted on bare legs or tights, no matter the minus ten New England weather.
Today, she came running into the kitchen screaming her head off, tears, red in the face. I was just sitting down to a cup of coffee.
“Claire wiped her snot on my tights!” she cried. Sure enough, the snail trail snot extended from knee to ankle on her new pink tights, compliments of her five year old sister.
At first I laughed. But the devastation on her face made me feel bad and we found a new pair of tights (snot-less). It mattered that there was snot on her tights, but it didn’t matter that the only pair of tights left in her closet completely clashed with her dress.
I don’t want to raise my child as a perfectionist. I want her to focus on trying hard, her best, not with an idea that things are only “good” if things are up to certain standards at all times. It is important to have standards, but in the event of an accidental run-in with snot, we have to learn to deal with it. What if we’d been at the mall or at a birthday party? I couldn’t have (or wouldn’t have) run out and bought a new pair of tights.
We fluctuate here in life. Sometimes my face is broken out and I try hard to cover it with subtle makeup. Other days my hair is actually looking like I want it to. Last week, I got my hair cut, quite a bit, and my youngest pointed out that I look just like Martha Stewart. Perfection? Maybe by Martha’s standards. By mine, I muss it up and stick a bobby pin in to get those front strands out of my eyes so I can see what I’m doing.
Some days I forget my wallet and realize it when I’ve just done an hour’s worth of grocery shopping and am next in line, or leave the vital snacks in the car when we are off for a walk down to the cove. Some days I break a dish, or just manage to scrape the side of the car when I’m lining up with the gas pump at the station. Sometimes all of that happens all in one day, along with the hair and the breakouts. And along with this all, I generally pee with two little companions, waiting for their turn to flush the toilet for me or gather the toilet paper in a big wad to hand over. I’m working on reveling in their enjoyment in it, and help them and me be compassionate when there’s snot on their tights.