The perfect child (does not exist)

My imperfect children

My imperfect children

I have often said (and written) that Avery was the perfect child until she turned two. She never cried, slept 12 hours without a peep and smiled nonstop. Clay never tried to fool us into thinking he was perfect, but he was pretty darn good. More recently I’ve joked that if I could combine my kids the combination child would be perfect: Avery is easy during the day, Clay is great in the evenings and goes to bed like a champ.

I am a perfectionist, so I find myself getting frustrated when my kids are not perfect. When Avery runs down the hallway as I ask her to get dressed. When all Clay wants to eat is sandwiches. When I tell them to get out of the pool five times, and they happen to be “underwater and can’t hear” me. Now that they are three and five, isn’t parenting supposed to be easier, not harder?

Often we are around friends’ (older) children, and I think, “gosh, they are so perfect.” They sit quietly, eat what they’re served and don’t whine or say “poo poo” every five minutes. I go home and order books on listening, make behavior charts and just pray that my kids turn out that good.

It’s taken conversations with other parents to realize no child is perfect. These other parents went through the same stuff in the past that we are facing now. And, we may see perfect behavior from their kids in public, but at home they may be fighting about cleaning rooms, doing homework or curfews. The good news is that parents seem to have short memories because my mom and mother-in-law remember very few of these struggles with their kids, though I know they happened.

My kids have a lot of great qualities. Clay is smart, caring, social and hard-working. Avery is funny, sweet, cute and a quick learner. Just like us, they have their good character traits and the ones that could use some improvement.

Every human is a work in progress and the work starts young. By the time we’re old and gray, maybe we’ll all be perfect. Or we’ll have gained the wisdom to stop looking for perfection. I’ve got my money on the latter.

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