Is It Just Me? Relentlessly pursuing perfection

By Nelson Clyde

"Sarah, do you remember what happened when you were little about the perfect attendance award?" I asked recently.

"No" she replied. "Why?"

The real question is why parents remember the wrongs committed against their children while the children forget about it and move on.

Sarah must have been in the early years of grade school. Let's just say second grade. Toward the end of the year she began talking about her excitement about receiving the perfect attendance award. As the dialogue advanced her contagious enthusiasm about the topic afflicted me.

The day finally came at the end of the year when she would march right up to the front of a convocation and receive her just reward for diligence.

The program moved on and when the end came several children had proudly accepted their certificates but Sarah's name was not called. The look on her face was of extreme disappointment and confusion.

Later that day a phone call to the administrative offices cleared up the matter. It was explained to me that Sarah had too many tardies to be eligible for the perfect attendance award and that if I had referred to the handbook the information had been there all along since the beginning of the school year.

Well that cleared everything up all right. That night we had our own ceremony in recognition of the perfect attendance award complete with a proclamation and the liberal inclusion of servings of ice cream fit for people in those eating competitions.

We explained to Sarah her diligence could not be diminished by our tardiness and she could not have known about the entire matter unless she had read the handbook herself.

As young parents we all want the best for our kids. We probably even try too hard to encourage them toward perfection when in reality it is performance that is ultimately better.

We got over it and even went the other direction from time-to-time. Some days we would arrive at school for no particular reason and yank the kids out of class unannounced to make an impromptu field trip somewhere incredibly educational, such as the State Fair of Texas or going fishing.

Surely any child who is to be regarded as a Texan with a proper upbringing should know the correct amount of mustard to put on a Fletcher's corny dog or how to fillet a fish.

As parents we need to let go of the wrongs we feel were done to our children as fast as they do. Especially if we were part of the problem.



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