“I hope your child isn’t perfect.”
I hope your child isn’t perfect.
I think if someone said that to me when I was pregnant with my first child, I would have been arrested for attacking them by launching myself over a table at them–Mean Girls Style.
But now I write it to you because I realllllllly hope your child isn’t perfect.
I worked in Los Angeles for a couple years directing the marketing of an acting studio for children. Top agents with clients on Disney, Nickelodeon, etc. would come in for showcases where the children were verrrry well prepared.
Agents would be like, “Bore. Snooze. PASS!” in their notes on the “perfect” children. There was nothing special about them.
They stood at the front of the room, in front of the camera, smiling. Doing exactly what they were “supposed” to do. The agents had seen that one before…
But then the quirky kids walked in for their audition and lit up the room the second they walked in–just by being themselves—hiding nothing about what makes them weird AKA themsevles. The children that were passionate about something (other than acting) stole the show too! And the children with multiple offers were the ones who were SO comfortable with themselves.
These children might have forgotten to smile at the end of their commercial or missed a line in their monologue or switched the order of their commercial and monologue. But it didn’t matter because they just had so much to offer the world!
Now that showcase gets 100% of its children signed to top agencies because the owner Mae Ross is so good at helping parents see how truly special and not perfect their children are.
Of course this email isn’t about getting your child a top agent. It goes much deeper than this.
We definitely live in a society that is obsessed with perfect children—children doing things correct all of the time. But if perfection means COMPLETE, we are absolutely headed in the wrong direction because this type of perfection is not the road to feeling whole or fulfilled. This is the road to children that are afraid to take risks, make mistakes, and learn new things very quickly their own way.
This is the difference that those agents saw. The same with employers hiring, captivated audiences, or for any inventor or strong historical figure.
I definitely see this with baby sign and other languages. Parents want their child do to a sign exactly right. Or parents want their child to saying something in Spanish “the right way.”
With languages, it’s been proven again and again that children give up, shut down, and drift away when they are criticized and corrected.
Just the other day, my friend Lorely, who is Deaf, was helping my son sign home instead of house. When he signed, it looked more like flower, and I said, “That looks like flower.” He put his hand down and stopped. I instantly realized what IIIIIIIIII had done. My eyes widened, and I had to save it. I said, “Because home is similar to flower! Good job!” He smiled so big and started signing again. (Good cover, right?! Bahhhh.)
He doesn’t need to do it correctly… right now. He’s SMART. I can TRUST him. As he sees us sign, his signing will get better and better. It’s been the same with his English, Spanish, German, and Portuguese. Criticizing him will push him away. Encouraging him will keep the fire lit. (I knew better, guys!)
So how can we reframe how we think? See really clearly how good teaching looks? The kind where you don’t step in and do things for your child. With an adorable video of course! This hilarious one-minute video will teach you how it’s supposed to FEEL when kids are learning something new.
(20 seconds will even give you an idea, but you might end up watching more because it’s so stinkin’ cute.)
I cannot handle them at 0:27 when both of them are laughing—even the girl on the right who got “kicked.”
Imagine if a parent or coach stopped those girls and told them how they should be fighting, like MMA fighters, and what they were doing was wrong—even “pathetic.” You’d push them down, wouldn’t you?! “Don’t spoil their fun. This is awesome!” You know they love what they are doing and just need time!
Children learn by our examples. (So we probably shouldn’t push people down either. lol) We can sign and talk in a foreign language as best we can, and let our children do they best they can—patiently allowing them to learn, so they FEEL perfect or complete in the process.
I hope your child isn’t perfect in the sense of doing everything right.
I hope your child is perfect in the sense of feeling complete and fulfilled, especially as s/he tries new things, fails, and overcomes.
To all the sweet moments you feel as you learn a language with your little one,
Is this love at first sight?
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