learning from the journey

A few days ago, when we were painting, Maddy decided she wanted to paint a cat.

This little orange tabby is her final product, the one she worked hardest on, her most proud painting accomplishment to date.

Her patient Aunt Mary walked her through the steps of creating a cat, after Maddy, who frustrates easily, tossed aside several attempts.

Instead of throwing away her “mess-ups” as she called them, I stuck them in a secret pile, and I made a book for her.

  • Maddy’s Cat Book: I wrote Maddy’s Cat Book on the cover, and I strung ribbon through holes for a binding. Here are the pages. . .

Maddy’s first cat.
She wasn’t happy with this one (see the ‘x’?).

Maddy’s cat numero dos.
This guy’s nose wasn’t right. . .

Maddy’s number three cat.
This one’s nose wasn’t quite right (he’s got an ‘x’, too). . .

Maddy’s numero quatro gato.
His triangle nose didn’t begin quite right. . .

But she tried and tried again, and she finally made one she was happy with!

For a little one who tends to be hard on herself and is always striving for perfection, I thought that putting these pieces together might show her–remind her–that hard work pays off, that we need to keep trying and trying again, and that sometimes we learn more through the journey. All of those super-important lessons that take so long to learn, I tried to shove into this tiny, simple book.

When I showed her the book a few days later, she wouldn’t stop smiling, and I told her that we were so proud of her for not giving up. It’s been on her nightstand ever since.




  1. Christy says

    Wow, I have never thought of saving the "mess-ups". I love that idea. My middle child is a perfectionist; it is so hard,isn't it?

  2. ResourcefulMommy says

    I cannot get over how different our beautiful girls who love each other so much really are! Emma is always satisfied the first time, even if she only filled in half of the cat's ear and left the "a" off when writing her name. It is incredibly frustrating! Send Maddy over to teach Emma to care? 😉

    What I do that is similar is take Emma's crazy number of hastily created pictures and put them together and let her write the story that they make. The illustrations leave something to be desired, but her stories are always enjoyable.

    Thanks for the tips!!

    (and the header looks even more gorgeous now that I'm seeing it on the site)

  3. Raising a Happy Child says

    This is a brilliant idea. I personally liked cat #2 just fine :) My daughter is an easily frustrated perfectionist as well, and I will use your technique when I'll get a chance.

  4. Anne says

    This is a great idea!! My 5 year old is such a perfectionist when it comes to crafts. She is so hard on herself.

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