Once upon a time there was a girl who wore two long braids to school every day. Her hair was past her waist, so it was too long to wear any other way. She had already been reading for two years now, so school was old hat, and people who couldn't read confounded her. Math was just as boring. On this particular day, with this particular blue worksheet, she was tired of being the first one finished. She wanted to see what it was like to miss a question. So instead of being first, she went back and erased her perfect answers. Every single one. Instead of grading it, the teacher gave her a new sheet to try again--and do perfectly.
And no one ever mentioned it again.
Twenty-some years later, that girl had a little boy. He rushes through his work, and he knows all the answers. But he won't tell you. He hates to color, and tracing letters bores him. He wants to talk about words and letter sounds, but don't you dare quiz him. He wants to quiz you. Ask him what letter "house" starts with. He will tell you one time. Ask him another "H" word, and, laughing maniacally, he will list every single letter in the alphabet except H. Sit him down by himself to read "Chicka Chicka 1-2-3," and he will look at the numbers and count to 50. Sit him in front of a teacher and ask him to count as high as he can, and he will stop at 12. "I don't know any more numbers," he says with a smile.
But if he thinks he hasn't pleased someone or succeeded, he crumbles.
What does the girl who didn't want to be perfect do with the boy who only wants to be perfect?