I saw a little girl the other day wearing a “Little Miss Perfect” T-shirt. And I thought: I wouldn’t let my child wear that T-shirt unless it were worn with irony. Children don’t really inspire irony, though, or do they? So I started to think of other potential t-shirts I could live with:
- Little Miss Good Enough
- Little Miss Trying Really Hard But Not Quite Making It
- Little Miss Almost There, Maybe?
- Little Miss Imperfect
- Little Miss Only Human
Because I guess I’ve always had issues with the idea of telling a child that he or she is perfect, or “the best.” Owen is my favourite boy, but he’s going to have to grow up with the knowledge that he’s fallible.
And I guess I have some doubts about this philosophy, but for now, at least, I’m sticking with it. I’ve encountered too many students with an irritating sense of entitlement, who don’t believe they can do wrong. I don’t know whether their parents held them accountable for their actions or whether they were told they were perfect – maybe it’s just a personality trait – but it is not a personality trait I want to foster in my child.
Owen is slowly learning to make intelligible sounds, and it’s a joy to watch him differentiate between them, but one of the things I didn’t expect was to have to correct him. He gets “Dada” right most of the time now, but his “Mama” is a cross between “Baba” and “Rararara” – so he gets a lot of “No” and a (very smiley) correction. But Owen doesn’t like to be wrong. Occasionally, after he’s been corrected, he makes a bizarre sound like a cross between a laugh and a cough, as if to cover up the fact that he made a mistake. And I certainly understand the impulse to tell him he’s done really well, even though the sound coming out of his mouth is completely wrong.
And I feel silly even bringing this up, but it’s been preoccupying me lately: how to teach him (over the long run) his strengths and his limitations.
If anyone has any ideas to share, I’d love to hear them.
Little Miss Trying Really Hard But Not Quite There Yet