Jack is the type of kid who doesn’t like to do something unless he absolutely 100% knows that he can do it perfectly. I made this realization when he learned to walk. There were no practice steps for him. Every once in a while he would take one step away from the couch, but immediately he would fall or go right back to the couch. I figured eventually he would start taking more steps and then work his way up to walking. I was wrong. One day, just after turning one, I set Jack down at the coffee table. He pulled himself up turned around and walked halfway across the living room. He looked over his shoulder, smiled at me and kept walking. It was then I knew, he’s not going to do anything until he KNOWS that he can do it perfectly.
Throughout the years, I’ve seen this trait again and again. Climbing playground equipment, craft projects, the perfectionist in him is everywhere. And yesterday it showed up at school. Jack’s class has been working toward writing their names on their own. They’ve been tracing their names for several months and yesterday was the day that they were to move onto writing their names. No tracing. At school pick-up, word was that Mr. Jack refused to write his name. He can do it. I’ve seen him do it. His teachers have seen him do it. We were baffled as to why he wouldn’t do it. They gave him a reprieve and have given him more time to work on tracing, then move him to writing.
Last night, we sat with Jack and talked to him about not doing what his teacher tells him to do. In talking to him and doing his weekly homework with him, it finally hit me. He knows that when he writes his name, it’s not perfect. His inclination is to write the C backwards and he struggles with the K. He wants to keep tracing his name because he is good at it. And he’s not “perfect” at writing his name yet. Of course this prompted a conversation about learning and not always being perfect the first time (or hundredth time) that you do something. I’m not sure that he gets it. We will be doing some extra practice on name writing, while still working with him on the whole perfection concept. It feels like a fine line. I don’t want him to change who he is, but at the same time, don’t want his desire for perfection to hold him back.
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