Finding the Bright Spots

Perfection is the enemy of progress.

I thought about this expression by French philosopher Voltaire after T broke his four-week streak of perfect spelling tests.

T’s teacher recently introduced Words of the Week; six words given on Mondays that he practices for a test on Fridays.

T crushed the first four weeks and we posted his tests proudly on our fridge.

Last Friday, he broke his streak and came home with a 5 out of 6.

The husband gave me a faux sad look and I told T he still did great and we posted the test up proudly with the others on the fridge.

The moment made me think of this video.

Writer Dan Heath muses that we often obsess on things that don’t go well and he encourages us to obsess instead about things that are going well and to scale up these bright spots.

I’m gonna keep it real. The following Saturday morning, I walked by the fridge and looked at that damn word “Us” that T misspelled.

It irked me because spelling was one of the bright spots in T’s up and down school journey.

Thanks to his teacher’s creative ways to encourage kids – such as creating a keychain of words to practice in a fun way – T is motivated to do well.

He even used it as a bedtime delay tactic last week when he got out of bed and said he needed to practice his words.

As his parent, I want him to have many chances to feel good about school and himself.

Then I realized how silly I was being. T was doing well in spelling and the hubby and I are gonna build on his progress and try to spread his enjoyment and motivation into other areas of school, such as reading.

And I walked away from the fridge.

Don’t get me wrong: doing well on tests is important. But I want T to focus on doing his best, learning and growing, rather than perfection.

The latter is focused on a fixed state in time; the former is focused on continual change and progress, also known as growth mindset.

As life with T reminds us, every day is a new chance to try again.

This Monday, T’s teacher announced that Words of the Week would be a review of the 30 words from the last five weeks; she would pick six random words for the test.

The gauntlet was thrown. Our family’s honour was on the line. Cue Rocky training music.

Jokes aside, we kept it chill with our no pressure approach of practicing two nights a week, including before the test.

Then we put it out of our minds and relaxed.

This past week, we also made adjustments to his medication – increasing the afternoon dose of methylphenidate – and as anticipated, there were a few bumpy moments.

By Friday, we were ready for the weekend.

As the hubby and I unpacked his school bag last night, we saw his spelling test: 6/6!

We cheered loudly and told T we’d celebrate with his dinner of choice. He picked McDonalds.

There was another surprise in his bag: a beautiful painted art he made in class (pictured up top).

I held it up against the glow of the golden hour sun and the moment felt like a bright spot in our week.

Every bump along the way from Monday to a Friday vanished into the past.

We complemented T on his work and he smiled and shouted, “It’s a masterpiece!”

18 thoughts on “Finding the Bright Spots

  1. Reading your post always bring me inspiration and encouragement. I agree in focusing on the positive accomplishments and progress than the negatives and failures. Imperfections is normal and realistic. Imperfections makes us strive to be better and motivates us to keeping life and challenges fresh. Congratulations to you, your Hubby and T. The lessons we learn both from mistakes and success are priceless and they become important building blocks in becoming a better, kinder, smarter, more confident Human Being. And always starts with a very supportive , loving Parent. Parenting is always imperfect and it’s what’s make it beautiful, humbling, exciting, amazing. Giving our child the tools to be ready for the World, people and reality is one of the priceless gift we could ever share and teach. Take care my Friend.

    1. Thank you as always for the encouraging comments. Our imperfections are what make us real and human… and interesting. 😊 We are very blessed that our T reminds us to be kinder and more forgiving with ourselves everyday. The ups and downs make life interesting and all the more beautiful. 😊

      Hope you are having a great weekend. We are enjoying our long-awaited spring break! 🙏 Take care!

    1. Thanks Diane. I love this video. I watch it from time to time to remind myself of the importance to focus on the bright spots!

  2. That’s amazing to hear that T is crushing it with spelling! I prefer the approach of celebrating our achievements and accomplishments as well, even the small stuff. There’s enough stress and uncertainty in the world around us, that’s it’s great to focus on the positives. One of my favourite sayings is: aim for completion and not perfection. It’s okay to make a few mistakes along the way, as long as we’re trying and willing to learn from them 🙂

    1. Thanks Linda. I like that saying – aim for completion rather than perfection. I agree, it applies to all areas of our lives, including hiking challenging trails! 😊

      One more week till Spring Break. I can’t wait!!! 🙏

  3. The surface looks very … fabric … to me.

    [Maybe it is the Atlantic Canadian sun which tells me this – or the way it is weaved].

    [I thought – hmm, it could not be silkscreen – and then I looked at the way the paint reacted with the surface].

    And so often I have read about “Perfect being the enemy of the good”.

    And I like what I see.

    [especially when it comes to positive and negative space].

    What McDonalds meal did T pick?

    Have just remembered that in LitHub there are children’s books which double as self-help books.

    1. Hi Adelaide, it’s a small canvas frame rather than fabric. I don’t think it’s silkscreen – but I’m not an art expert so. 😆

      The saying is commonly phrased as Perfect is the enemy of the good – as you noted. I slightly adapted the phrasing to progress to better fit the theme of the post. 😊

      He picked his usual Happy Meal with 4 nuggets. That’s one advantage of having a picky eater – very predictable!

      We are very lucky to have books that double as life lessons too. 🙏

      Hope you are doing well and thanks for dropping by!

      1. Predictability in food can be a great advantage, yes. Each nugget tastes different and is textured differently. Even within the same batch.

        [my favourite way to have a McDonald’s chicken nugget is with the sweet and sour sauce. It is honeyed in colour and has a fifth-taste/umami quality.

        I learnt very early that tomato sauce and barbeque sauce were not enough for McNuggets – but it was in the 2000s that I discovered the sauce in the sentence above…

        And brains are very very much like chicken nuggets – or chicken nuggets are like brains if you were exposed first to the brains and other offal.

        I have also been known to dip ice-cream in and on the nuggets especially the sundaes].

        Texture is how I thought about the canvas frame. And how it could be stretched.

        [Probably not a big coincidence I had looked at a canvas-stretching website a few days before].

        [Silkscreen would be much lighter – and so would batik – batik and its techniques was what got me thinking about T’s painting].

        When I look at art I do so very closely – as close as I can without touching the delicate artwork – which with its raises and bumps.

        Probably my favourite thing is how the green is so bold and it is sent to the edge in relatively big shapes – which makes the yellow and blue stand out.

        So rarely did I paint on canvas – especially when I was a young person.

        Ah – these slight adaptations.

        They build up to habits. [yes, it does take 28 days to build a habit like the spelling words

        The video is very fine as well.

        Hope you have a wonderful Spring break [and that your weekend was your weekend].

      2. Thank you, Adelaide!

        You and I share the same love for sweet and sour sauce. That is my preferred dipping sauce too! T prefers honey, which gets everywhere with his messy hands. 😆 Oh well, gotta enjoy these childhood moments while you can!

        I also liked T’s colour choices as well and agree the colours are lovely especially on these darker drearier days.

        Hope you have a great week as well. We’re not quite at Spring Break yet. But counting down the days very excitedly!

  4. It’s a masterpiece! As is this post which is so real and uplifting! Thank you for sharing that up and down journey to the bright spots! You all have earned a fun weekend!

    P.S. I loved the moment when T used the spelling words as a delay tactic. Brilliant! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Wynne. He did a great job indeed. A lovely way to start our weekend which has been wonderfully uneventful so far!

Leave a Reply