The Crazy Behind the Curtain

Getting up and heading to church on Sundays is something we do more often than not. The morning pace is slow, but we manage to make it to the church on time. The boys go to their Sunday school classes, and Rob and I go to our Sunday school class. This past Sunday was different. We were given the task (honor, really) to light the first candle of the advent season. We were to light the candle during the 9:30 am church service.

Our morning routine was a little more rushed, wanting to look our very best for the congregation. I wanted to make sure the boys wore their pants without holes, and shirts/sweaters that actually matched their pants. On this particular Sunday – socks and sandals would not be acceptable. We were rushing around in an attempt to look like the ‘perfect’ family.

As we were heading to church, I noticed several other cars on the road. And, from what I could see, many of the cars had folks dressed in their ‘Sunday’ best. I reflected back to Thanksgiving, when my niece took a picture of me, Rob and the boys, because the holiday season typically brings with it greeting cards. Many greeting cards. And, many of the greeting cards include a picture of the family. Most pictures show a happy family, smiling beautifully in their best holiday clothes. Or perhaps, the picture was taken at the beach, and they are donning similar outfits – white tops and blue bottoms. Regardless of the pose or the clothes, taking the perfect holiday picture is a ritual for many families. And, wanting to include a picture of our perfect family in our holiday card, I made sure our family took part in the ritual.

Perhaps, if you peel back the curtain in our family you may find: the rushing around the house; the bickering and snapping over this and that, because of this and that; the pull in the pantyhose that leads to a run, because of an attempt to chase the dog off the bed and out of the bedroom, while also trying to get dressed; the grape jelly that falls off the toast and lands on a clean Sunday shirt, as a 4yr old eats while also bouncing in his chair; the glitter glue picture that had to be completed by a 5yr old and ends up in his lap – leaving globs of glue behind on his Sunday pants; etc.

Then again, you may find a perfectly composed family, clean and neat, with freshly washed and pressed clothes, brushed teeth and hair, all smiles and ready to please. Though, as I shake a Magic 8 Ball, I’m not at all surprised to find, “Looks Doubtful.”

What follows is a series of photo mishaps, in the effort of getting the ‘perfect’ shot. Starting with my boys, in a series of pictures where one realizes he is tickling the other to the point of no return. And, I am not including the perfect shots, because really, there is more fun to be had while living in the crazy.

Look. Charlie is a little ticklish.
Charlie is ticklish, Mom.
This is kind of fun!
And, we're done!
While positioning the kids, my friend (and photographer) saw a chance and took it.
How many more pictures do we have to take?!

Be kind, take care of yourself and each other, and make sure you have fun while living in the crazy!

Complete in all respects, but not perfect

“I messed up again!” Joe whined, as he brushed his piece of paper onto the floor and tossed his crayon. “I can’t draw a tree.”

I picked the piece of paper off the floor and looked at Joe’s rendition. “What’s wrong with this?” I asked him.

“There is more green on one side of the tree than the other.” He said sadly.

My favorite evergreen tree. Perfection in my eyes.“Joe,” I said, “Look outside. See all our trees in the backyard? None of those trees are perfect. Each tree has crooked limbs and missing leaves.”

I got up and walked towards a front window. “Come here, Joe. I want to show you something.”

Joe got up and followed me to the window in our living room. “See this tree?” I asked, while pointing to an evergreen growing next to our house. “See how this tree has branches on one side of it but not the other side?”

I stood there as Joe looked out the window, examining the tree. I could tell he he was getting my message. He walked back to his drawing and finished his apple tree. Pleased with his work, he took the picture to church to give to his friend Sam.

Last week, Rob and I had our first parent/teacher conference with Joe’s Kindergarten teacher. One comment she shared with us pertained to Joe wanting to always be right. She asks Joe to spell words phonically (phonetically?), but Joe balks – wanting to make sure he spells the word correctly.

Though Joe does not strive to be perfect or error- free all of the time, it is clear he does not like making mistakes. Does anyone like making mistakes?

When I made a comment to Joe regarding his picture, I used the word perfect. But, what is perfect? Really. And, is perfection attainable? According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, perfect is “complete in all respects; flawless; excellent as in skill or quality; completely accurate.” If a tree is drawn completely in all respects, does this mean the tree is then perfect? Is it possible for something to be complete in all respects but not completely accurate? The definition of perfect is contradictory to the point that perfection is both easy to attain and impossible to attain.

Wanting to be right and wanting to be perfect are two very different things, yet I believe we use them interchangeably. Joe’s personal take on his drawing was that the tree was not right; it was different. Yet, I took the liberty to use the word ‘perfect’ vs. being right or wrong. When the reality is sometimes different is simply ‘not the same’. And, just as we strive to be perfect or right, many of us also do whatever it is we can to make ourselves stand out from the crowd. We try to be different.

Am I making any sense? I want Joe to strive to be right when it matters. And, being right is important in matters like math and science. But, I don’t want Joe to worry about always being right. I don’t want Joe to worry about always being perfect. And, for the most part, society is reflecting their own personal opinion when the terms right and perfect are used.

Joe's perfect Apple tree.

Generally speaking, we ask ourselves questions like: ‘Does my house look perfect?’ ‘Is my outfit right?’ ‘Is my hair perfect?’ and, ‘Does my family look right?’ And, generally speaking, we get it wrong every time. Just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, being right and being perfect is in the eyes of the beholder, too. Joe’s drawing of an apple tree looked right to me. And, in a world of ‘wee-honked’ trees, his drawing was a perfect addition to the mix.

I’ve just made a mountain out of a mole hill, eh? You may be thinking I’ve over-thunk being perfect, being right, being wrong and being different. Yes, well, you may be right. But hey, I’m not perfect.