Last week, I was anxious. Really anxious. I had a ton of stuff to accomplish before heading out to New Zealand, including a couple big presentations. I felt like I needed everything to be perfect. So I did a lot of pacing and a lot of wringing my hands and doing that thing where I aggressively scratch my beard like a dog.
The night before I left, I was preparing a lovely meal extracted from takeout boxes when the subject of Elijah’s first parent teacher conference came up. I immediately prepared for the cavalcade of hilarious antics.
“His teacher says he’s really sensitive,” Diana said.
Hmm. Not exactly the hilarious opening I had hoped for.
“She said he gets really anxious in class if he misses a question or when he doesn’t do things perfectly. He cries if he doesn’t complete his assignment on time.”
I began to feel the double helixes tighten under my skin. Once again, one of my worst character traits had been passed onto my son. Like his eventual shoulder hair issues.
I scratched my beard, aggressively. Like a dog. And asked what we were supposed to do.
His teacher said we should tell him it’s okay not to be perfect. He can miss a few questions here and there. And that he should learn to relax a bit and try to enjoy himself, especially when he’s headed off to New Zealand for a shoot and those presentations will turn out just fine.
His teacher also said that he’s a great, smart kid who gets along with everyone and loves to laugh and have fun. And he genuinely cares about other people. Maybe he got one or two of those from me too. But most likely from Diana.