Sunday, August 5, 2012

Perfectionist's Lament

"I can't! I CAN'T I can't I can't I can't!" she shrieked, a heartbreaking refrain that I recognize all to well...

She was trying to draw a horse. She DREW a horse...a horse that I glanced toward and recognized instantly.

She is two years old, and here it was; this glorious, beautiful, actual HORSE drawn on the page in front of her, orange crayon somehow managing to do justice to the amazing animal and its power.

Two.

Some kids can't do any representational drawing until four.  And Here was my Hazel, at two years old, with this miracle horse that she had created; and then immediately lamented.

It wasn't -from her perspective - good enough.  It wasn't perfect.  It didn't look like the horse in her mind; the horse and the magic she wished to portray and to share with all of us; the beauty and strength and power it clearly represented to her tiny enormous heart...

And so she wailed, and shrieked, and hated her work, her abilities, herself.

My heart crumbles and dies each time I find myself in the trenches attempting to guide her through it. The pain and anguish and frustration is visceral and real...and I remember, so well, exactly what it feels like to wish you were capable of giving up.  To be ok with mediocre, to not notice or care about each screaming flaw...but she can't see herself, her work, her greatness through my eyes.

At two years old she hates herself for not being able to do it right - a 'right' which is a standard held only by her Self, and none other...I can't stand to see it.  It hurts me to the core because I do not want any of my children to ever hurt so deeply, especially from a self-inflicted wound.

My hopeful power and goal is to provide her with the tools she needs to navigate these dark woods before the dark of adolescence hits.  Before the depression that runs deep on both sides of her family can take hold of a vulnerable teenage brain and ruin her for herself, I want to teach her how to be ok and to love because of her heart, her dreams, her thoughtfulness, her deviousness, her spark, her flaws, her loves, her SELF - and not merely because of her superb little hands producing perfectly perfect "perfect."