Monday, July 21, 2008

Imperfectly Wonderful

Chris has a pencil. The pencil was with him in college. It survived Cummins. It survived Whirlpool. And though it was lost for a week here, it is still the preferred medium for Chris to do his calculations.

0.5mm lead.
Small, in the tiny sense, dent in the eraser lid.
It is the perfect pencil for a rather geeky mechanical engineer.

There would come times usually in college when I would ask to borrow said pencil. I would marvel at one particular trait this pencil had. A factory flat eraser. No, not because it was never used. Because, Chris had a particular way of erasing his mistakes. Instead of flipping the pencil over and erasing wherever and however eraser met paper, he carefully tipped the pencil upside-down and found the correct placement of the eraser so that it was exactly parallel to the paper. Only then would eraser touch paper. It would never deviate from parallel, retaining the factory flatness of the eraser. Only the top would ever show signs that Chris made mistakes.

I would inevitably add slope to the eraser. I freely admit that sometimes I would deliberately add slope to the eraser just to tease Chris. As time elapsed, though, I stopped borrowing the pencil and it has lived the exclusive life of a cherished engineer's pencil.

Until tonight.

Chris asked to take us out to eat. As soon as Abigail and I got home from my meeting. How impressed was I! We got all the stuff ready to go and I could swear I put toys in a bag for Abigail. But when we got to our restaurant (we eat there once a week), no toys were to be had. Just Daddy's pencil. With trepidation Chris handed it over reminding Abigail to be gentle, fearing that she would take lead to paper with enough gusto to break lead, tear paper and damage both tabletop and lead guide. Relieved when she moved lead across paper with grace and ease, Chris relaxed.

Until. . .

I need to race, Daddy.

And just as easily as she had written with the pencil she yanked the lid from the eraser and took eraser to paper. Little toddler hand grasping pencil in tight little fist. Rubbing at stray marks on a place mat. Eraser bending ever so slightly with the force applied. Chris left trying to convince a two-year old that she didn't need to erase. And when that didn't work, that enough erasing had taken place.

I had a perfect ninety degree angle.

I had to chuckle.

So much that I deemed necessary to spend my time getting perfect is fading in the reality that there is another person in my world. One who cares far more for the experiences presented her than the perfect anything. There is so much "imperfect" in her--behavior (picking her nose in church), communication (I waked up), abilities (three lines represent anything you can imagine)--but she carries out life with joy and with ease waiting with baited breath for what interesting or fun thing will come up next.

How much do I have to learn from her! What if I picked up one room and cheered instead of seeing only that there are three more needing picked up? What if I talked about the things that mattered to me instead of sticking to approved topics? What if I thought of the fun of the adventure instead of listing the work to be done? What if I just did the next thing instead of dreading the next thing? What if the perfect ninety-degree angle stopped mattering as much as the task set before me? What if. . .


  1. You are so right. I need to be more like my children, because after all, I am imperfect. How can I expect perfection from them, or the house, or my life, when it is I who needs God's grace and love? When it is I who is so far from perfect, I'm probably 180 degrees from where I need to be . . .

  2. Well at least we haven't "gone all the way" in to geekdom and sported the all to common plastic pocket protector. Take heart Chris, I too erase the same way with my pentel. Perhaps we are cut from the same mold. And yes, it is amazing the "mirror" we project of ourselves to our children!