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perfect is as perfect does

Don’t bother telling me that title doesn’t make any sense. Grammar is not my friend today. In any case, that modified Gumpism is the phrase that’s been going through my head over the past few days.

It all started with an episode of NPR’s On Point about perfectionism. Did you catch it? I enjoyed it because members of my immediate family–who will remain nameless–have perfectionist tendencies, and I’ve often wondered if striving for perfectionism is simultaneously a sort of strength and weakness. The radio program addressed this issue in a way that didn’t point fingers but at the same time offered an impetus for perfectionists to be less perfect. It’s worth a listen.

People often ask me in what ways my kids are different. I usually offer the example of temper tantrums. Charlie and Vivi both went through the terrible twos (not so terrible if you ask me, but that’s another story), but their temper tantrums have never been about the same topics.

Genevieve could usually be reasoned with and so would rarely have fits over being told what to do. She was a people-pleaser from the start, and her tantrums have been over issues related to perfection, like a sock that had an uncomfortable/imperfect seam or a block tower that just didn’t look quite right.

Charlie’s tantrums, on the other hand, are related to being told what to do. She firmly believes she’s in charge at all times and will sit in the middle of the road if she doesn’t want to hold my hand. Stinker! Conversely, she doesn’t care at all about the look or feel of things. Mommy’s little imperfectionist.

But why just write about their differences when I can show you video evidence? Here are the girls as they both try to do a similar task (i.e. lay down a blanket). You can see how different their reactions are to the situation.

p.s. You have the added bonus in the 1st video of being a fly on the wall for a riveting marital discussion over how to de-grease a pan. Oh how I miss tiny chubby Vivi! “Kitty, you want some wuvin’?”

p.p.s. These videos are of a length only grandparents could love, but I don’t have time to edit them. Watch at your own risk of boredom!!

Speaking of perfectionistas, as a parent I have had to let go of a lot of what little perfectionist tendencies I had. E.G. when photographing the girls. Oof. We’ll be getting ready to go shopping or to church (typically when they want to dress up), and they’ll look so adorable I just have to take their picture. But it’s just as likely to turn out looking like this…

Fail! They look as though they attend the only prison with a striped hoodie uniform.

…as like this…

Cuteness! Even the cat photobombing doesn’t ruin this smiley pic for me.

There isn’t much I do today that I would call perfectionist, but the one time/labor-intensive activity I have stubbornly clung to is organization. I will have sixteen loads of laundry in need of washing and two dirty toilets, and yet I can often be found on the floor of the office sorting paper. It makes me feel 1% less crazy to have my paperwork filed, so I stick with what (sort of, but not really) works.

What kinds of perfectionist tendencies have you let go of? Are there still rules you follow no matter how much extra time it takes?