To say that my son is a perfectionist would be a huge understatement. He does not like making mistakes. And the idea of doing something wrong paralyzes him so much that he won’t even try something unless he knows that he can do it.
So I do what every mom is supposed to do, keep reminding him that it’s OK to make mistakes and that learning from our mistakes helps us all grow our brain power.
On one such day of advice-giving, he looks up at me and says, “If I make a mistake, you get angry.” That was the day that I realized that his extreme reactions came from my unrealistic expectations.
That was also the day I understood that Moms can and often make mistakes.
So I started observing my behavior around my son. Every time he made a mistake, frown lines would appear on my face as if by magic. If the mistakes continued despite repeated instructions, my soft voice got louder. In a few days, I observed myself losing control more often than I would have liked. It felt as if someone else resided in me and she would take charge every once in a while.
Then, I had to follow up with the real work of catching myself while making those mistakes. It is so much easier to catch something once it has already been done. After-all, hindsight is always 20/20. The real challenge was to identify it right before it started.
So, every time that I felt I was losing control, I would count to ten, or start chanting Om. I also kept reminding myself that I was dealing with another human being, a little one who had his own share of feelings and emotions. And the little child’s expressions as he looked at my face was a bit too much to bear.
Shift Your Perspective
It took all my positive spirit to make myself understand that making mistakes was not the end of the world. I kept reminding myself and forgiving myself every time I lost control of my emotions. It took quite a bit of self-talk to come to terms with this side of me.
I even compared myself to the great Kramer in one episode of Seinfeld, where he decides not to talk. The guy would start talking and then in the middle of his speech, remember his oath, and state, “And it starts now!” That became my catch-phrase, my new mantra …It starts now!
But the most important thing that I did was to make a point of sharing with my son that getting angry over making mistakes was a huge blunder in itself. He had a huge grin on his face when he understood that I was the one in trouble for a change and that he got to “forgive” me.
And they live happily-ever-after
The day finally came, when both of our hard work gave us some tangible result. My son and I were singing a song at a pitch of G sharp.
As the song progressed, my son shook his head from time to time, even as he continued to sing. By the end of the song, I caught on to the fact that we were both singing in different pitches. I had gone down to F sharp which was not how we started the song.
I knew that all my efforts to teach him the value of making mistakes were not wasted when my little one waited for the song to get over, each of us singing in different pitches, and then exclaimed, “Mom you made a mistake … but that’s alright, you still sang well!”
Change in our children begins with us.