Last week, Annalise had a great time at a beach-themed VBS with her friend Payton. (Thanks for the invite, Rachel.) On the last day, she brought home a purple beach bucket full of all her crafts from the week, her name written neatly on the outside of the bucket in gel paint. She was quite proud.
Except she has apparently inherited some OCD/perfectionist qualities from, ahem, I have no idea where, because she was bugged by a slight smudge on the second letter “a” in her name, right along the stem of the letter. Now let me be clear when I say that whoever wrote her name – in gel paint, on a round bucket – did an amazing job. Perfect printing in a perfectly straight line on a curved surface, all done from a squeeze bottle. I was impressed at the obvious talent of one who most certainly was a fellow perfectionist.
But as flaws often do, the smudge on the a wore at my little 4-year-old idealist. First, she pointed it out to me. “Do you like my bucket, Mommy? There is just a little smudge right here though.” I told her I loved her bucket, and I didn’t even notice the smudge. But now that she pointed it out, I liked it. It gave the bucket character. (I’ve had practice with this sort of thing, you know. I may have had to use that line for myself once or twice before.)
Then she announced – more to herself than anyone – that the smudge was “no big deal” and did her very best to ignore it. But I could see as she played with her perfect purple bucket with her almost-perfect name, it was still bothering her. She’d stop every once in a while to rub the smudge, pinch it, trying to squish away the imperfection.
Finally, she had enough. “Mom, I don’t like that smudge. I’m taking it off!” Before I could stop her, she had the corner of the letter a and promptly ripped that smudge – and entire stem of the a – right off her bucket… Leaving a perfect letter c behind.
Now as any perfectionist knows, a misspelling is much much worse than a minor smudge.
She gasped. “OH NO! Now I have a c instead of an a!” Panic on her face, she stared at the torn letter. “A-N-N-C-L-I-S-E! Mom, what’s my name now????”
I didn’t hesitate. “Ank-leese,” I said matter-of-factly.
Another gasp. “But I don’t like the name Ank-leese! It’s not even pretty!”
“I don’t think it’s so bad,” I responded. “Here. Let me take a picture of you with your new name, Ank-leese.”
“Well, I’m not smiling if you do. Ank-leese is not a happy name.”
I took the picture anyway, laughing the entire time. “Say ‘cheese‘ Ank-leese!”a
It’s very clear to me now why Jacob gets such a kick out of tormenting his sister. She just makes it so fun.
“MOMMY! It’s NOT FUNNY. How would you like it if your name was Hol-key?”
Hol-key? This girl is too much. I laughed harder. “That wouldn’t be so bad, Ank-leese. I don’t think I’d mind.” Still laughing.
“Well, I’m gonna start calling you that! Stop laughing, Hol-key!”
“That’s mom-key to you, Ank-leese.”
Apparently sarcasm and teasing don’t go well with a perfectionist’s frustration. Poor girl. So I told her that no matter what her name is, I will always love her the same. Annalise by any other name… even if that name is Ank-leese. Either way, she is mine and she is God’s and she is perfect to me.
We talked a bit about the bucket, and how she let a little thing bother her, and by trying to make it perfect, she only made it worse. That it is sometimes really hard, but that we have to be okay when something isn’t exactly how we want it, or isn’t what we think is “just perfect.”
And since she sometimes struggles with negativity, we talked about how we need to be thankful for our many blessings, and focus on the so many good things and not focus so much on what we think are bad things.
Then I asked her about the story they learned in VBS that day. Ank-leese told me they heard the story about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. We talked about how Jesus was perfect, fully God and fully man, that he could have come as a rich king, or however he wanted, but that he came into a poor family as a baby. I said how amazing it was that he, God, would do that, that he would wash the feet of the disciples. “Do you know what that means, Annalise?”
She thought about it, scrunched up her face and responded. “Yeah. It means he had some really dirty water.”
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” ~ Psalm 18:32
Oh, and I almost forgot… Jacob maybe learned his lesson about eating his boogers. No more floss needed. Yesterday he came to me and said, “Mommy, I picked my nose. But do not woo-wee. I did not eat it. I put it wight back in my nose.” Aaaand onto a new lesson…