If you have ever lived with a three-year-old child, then you know that they spend most of the day agonizing about getting things perfect. They'll melt down because Rapunzel's crown doesn't sit on top of her head at just the right angle, or the Sesame Street episode doesn't feature enough Ernie and Bert. I once had thirty minute conversation with my Princess assuring her that it's OK that she spilled water on her dress, because water dries and no one should strip off their clothes in the middle of Bob Evans.
With my child, the perfection police started on her third birthday and just progressed as she ages. Everything must be to the standards of our little angel, and I mean everything. She's has given us instructions about what she will and will not wear, what we should and should not wear, and what shows we'll watch and in what order. She even dictates how the Queen and I talk to her, many times giving us the words to say, and then prompting us with our lines if we deviate off script. Sometimes when she wakes up in a mood, its like a little Napoleon inspecting her troops, and if one hair falls out of place, it's the stockades.
All parents I meet tell me that this is just a phase all kids go through. They tell me that all I should do is to gently remind them that life is messy, set realistic consequences when she goes too far, and try not to throw her through a plate glass window. Try to set good examples and find models that exemplify the behaviors that make "good choices." They also say that having a glass of wine or a shot of bourbon helps ease the nerves.
And while I now think most parents are alcoholics, our family does heed their advice most of the time. Soft tones, a ton of repeating ourselves and plenty of books help when nothing goes right. If we can have mistakes without the world ending, and if we can show that you don't have to be perfect, then just perhaps our three-year-old rule set doesn't explode into full-fledged OCD syndrome. I found that the biggest help for me is in the book department. When I'm reading to her, she doesn't notice the vein throbbing in my forehead.
My favorite book by far is Ish by Peter H. Reynolds. Ish tells the story of some dude named Ramon who can't draw a vase. After days of trying he gets all pissed off until his sister lets him know that although his drawings don't look exactly like the vase, they look vase-ish. Ramon gets all jazzed up about thinking "ishly" and goes all hippy-trippy. He draws what he wants to without worrying what it looks like. He writes some beat poems. The he gets so ze-nish that he doesn't do anything. It really is a great book that teaches about creativity and not stressing about crap that doesn't matter. Plus, it has a kid drawing on the potty.
I even have taken it to heart. I just finished baking a mess of a meal, and that's fine because it looks lasagna-ish. My jokes work, especially the one with an interrupting cow, because they are funny-ish. And when I look into the mirror, I happy that I seem manly-ish. Thinking ishly has led to a whole new acceptance for my mediocrity. Even this rambling piece of writing feels fine because at least it's post-ish.
I urge all of you to think ishly, too. Can't go to work today because you're sick-ish. You're not really following around your ex girlfriend; you're just stalker-ish. Start flailing around in the middle of the park just because you feel dance-ish. Ishing can free your mind, sooth your soul, and perhaps get you either fired or arrested. But who cares! Everything is legal-ish.
I need to wrap this up, the Princess calls and her pillow is not Tiana side up. At least when I get back I can have another shot of that bourbon. Especially since I'm just drunk-ish.
Jack Grubb writes an incredible blog, Losing the Internets, which is read by at least 37 people and over 2,100 Russian SPAM bots. In his spare time he helps small companies find their marketing voice. Jack currently lives deliberately in Appalachia, Kentucky with his wife, two daughters, Jack Russell and a Lego collection beyond compare.