Perfection

In appraisals at work I’ve always been called a perfectionist. It seems an odd thing to criticise someone for but I’ve accepted it with good grace, and didn’t ram the phone on the desk up their arse, or stick their tie in the electric shredder while holding their face close to the whirring steel blades.

A perfectionist? If this is the only criticism you can level at me for getting the job done on time, within budget, to the standards required, to a high degree of professionalism and with nay fuss or bother, then fine. No, really. That’s fine.

But to be called a perfectionist so many times weighed on my mind a bit. Did I expect others to work in the same way? Is this too much to expect? There’s no such thing as perfect, and I know that, so calling me a perfectionist is a bit of a stupid thing to say. I’ve never delayed a job or project being this way. I have high standards of myself. That’s all.

But I saw the sense in what had been said in my last job, as a SAHD.

When I was a little boy my mum used to draw me a picture of an owl she called ‘Ollie Owl’ which dated back to a TV programme from when she was young. It was the only thing she could draw. I’d ask her to draw something else but she’d always give me the pens and pencils and tell me to draw it, because, as she said ‘Oh I can’t draw a tractor/horse/cow/car/fire station/space station/octopus/ice cream van on fire.’

I found myself doing the same thing when T was younger. He’d ask me to draw things and I’d be hesitant, or reluctant to do so. I couldn’t draw anything. Except an owl from a long forgotten TV show.

I’m hopeless at art, crafting, drawing or anything West of that. Utterly hopeless. And I know I’ll never be good at it.

Once, in my late teens, I went on a cycling trip and went to Dorchester and the surrounding areas. I was studying Thomas Hardy and planned to visit his childhood cottage. I bought some paper and pencils so I could sit there and sketch it, forgetting I was useless at drawing and hoping that the years of not drawing anything at all had somehow given me some skill at doing so.

I spent a few hours in the sun, sketching this amazing building, but didn’t show anyone. I got home and my mum asked me how my trip was. I pulled out this sketchpad and showed her what I’d done.

‘That’s lovely Spencer. But why did you draw a loaf of bread?’

So. I’m shit at drawing. And when T asked me to draw something I’d encourage him as my mum did with me. Try to draw it yourself. In my head this was educating him, or giving him the confidence to draw something himself but it disguised the fact that I felt I couldn’t draw a perfect fire engine or a perfect replica of the Gruffalo. I’d have a go of course but they were always really shit. A stupid looking tractor, an ambulance or fire engine that no-one would ever want to go in. Even my trees look fucked,Β  my cats look like creepy rabbits and my Thomas The Tank Engine looks more like Lord Voldemort

Suddenly the penny drops.

A perfectionist. Hmmm. Now I see what they meant.

I was given a make your own Morph kit for Father’s Day and on opening it T wanted to make ‘the man’ but I said we’d do it another time as we had plans to go out. Actually I didn’t want to do it ever because I knew it would look shit.

It wouldn’t look like Morph.

It wouldn’t be perfect.

But the following week, when the children were their home with Chicken Pox and I was looking after themΒ  we were struggling for things to do. T suggested it again. So I thought I’d give it a go as, frankly, I was running out of ideas to keep them distracted. So we put on the accompanying Morph DVD and had a go.

20 minutes later and lots of kneading of plasticine from team usΒ  there he was. A brown plasticine man who looked nothing like –

“It’s Morph! Wow Daddy it’s Morph! Well done Daddy, you’ve made Morph! You’ve made him! Well done Daddy” said T.

“Itshhhh Morph Daddy” said K.

The praise they gave me helped me think, and the think that I was thinking was that we can’t be perfect at anything, no matter how hard we try, and this counts double for parenting. We can do our best and sometimes that’s all we need to do to make our children happy. Somehow that’s enough.

It took a 3 year old, a 20 month old and a ball of plasticine to teach me that.

If you’ve got any drawing or crafting tips for me then please let me know. Equally, if you’ve got a surefire way of me being able to remove the stick that I have up my arse I’d greatly appreciate it.

Thanks for reading.

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18 responses to “Perfection

  1. Love your post. Thats a great Morph! I am quite crafty but have the same fear of drawing as you i.e It wont be a prefect replica of what I see. I went on a sewing course recently that involved lots of drawing. The woman running it was amazing. She gave us all large glasses of sherry, put on some loud drum and bass music and told us to draw the person opposite us without looking at the paper. It was so liberating! She convinced us all it doesn’t matter if its not perfect. Its better when its quirky or funny or a bit shit! Thing is kids don’t care anyway!!So sherry and loud music is def the way to go craftwise!!.

    • I think as long as it’s done with heart, love and the relevant bits are there, all is golden. I hope.
      This sounds like a good course. Wish they did something like that round here. πŸ™‚
      Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting.

  2. That is the best Morph I’ve seen all day! Brilliant!
    Don’t know if it helps but my 9yr old thinks he’s rubbish at drawing too and I always say “It doesn’t have to be perfect as long as we can tell what it is”
    I’m rubbish at drawing so what would I know anyway…..

  3. And what a cool looking morph he is! Well done! Kids are wonderful aren’t they? That unconditional love, total belief in whatever you do, and almost never ending smile. I love mine, and I can clearly see you do yours, and they you. I wish I could make a morph with beanzy. Perhaps when he is a little bigger, and when I do, I will thank you for the idea. And hope mine looks as cool as yours does!

    • Thanks darlin’ – but you have lots of creative skills, especially those in the food/cooking.baking department. Whereas my food skills have disappeared and most things I try to look nice all look a little bit…crap.
      But, it’s all about the effort I guess. And no-one can fault us on that. πŸ™‚
      Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment.

  4. Your Morph is ace!! Being a perfectioninst for me has led to a lifetime of disapointment as things never turn out as perfect as in my mind. Im slowly learning with my kids as guidence that it does not have to be perfect to be good or enjoyable.

  5. Hmmm, perfectionism. It can be something that prevents you from moving forward and from putting too much pressure on yourself at the sake of other things. That’s what they tell ME at least. I too am crap at crafts and truly despise them. The other day I actually drew something on the chalkboard I thought was rather amazing considering my limited abilities, it came deply from the heart, maybe that’s what it takes. xx

  6. This is my favourite of all your posts. I’ve learnt all my best lessons from my kids. And your kids’ approval of your Morph made me cry a bit down the back of my throat. Kids. Wise little joyful swines aren’t they?

    • I hope to learn many more from them. They teach me more about life in an hour than I’ve learned in 40 years, specifically, how to enjoy it a bit.
      Thanks for reading and for commenting. I’m honoured.

  7. My two top tips are
    1) use a pencil, not pen as mistakes can then be rubbed out.
    2) tracing paper.
    Glad I could help πŸ™‚

  8. Your morph is fab. And I totally get where you are coming from although I do like crafts. But I did a guest post on my cousin’s blog about why I was afraid to start my blog cos my writing wasn’t perfect and you know what, since I started I don’t care any more! I guess you just have to roll your sleeves up and dive in, to mix metaphors. (that post was at http://fionalynne.com/blog/flying-lessons/ in case you want to read)

    • Many thanks. I’m more confident about it all now. As long as the idea is there it’s a goer. Tractors have one big wheel at the back and a small at the front etc. πŸ™‚

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