They Said My Kid Is Perfect
When my child was born, one of the most common comments I got from people was “he’s perfect.” It caught me off guard the first time because I’ve always believed that no one is perfect. Other new babies seem to get the same compliment.
It seems an odd thing to say. Babies are people, and people aren’t perfect. I know that it’s kind of just something that people say about new babies, but then I realized that there is some truth to it.
They can drool all over themselves, blow out their diaper, keep you up till 5am, scream and cry the entire flight… and they will still be perfect.
Here’s the thing: new babies are perfect because they haven’t hurt anyone yet. They haven’t used their words or actions to truly damage anyone’s spirit.
The dark side to “he’s perfect” is that one day, my son will be playing at daycare or something, and will get mad at another kid for something somewhat mild, and will hit them because he doesn’t know how to control anger yet. That other kid will cry. My kid will no longer be perfect.
Or maybe he will have a sister and he will get angry that he’s not the only child anymore, and he will pull her hair so hard she cries for an hour. No longer perfect.
Or maybe he will call someone a name randomly and impulsively and that name will stick with that person forever as a memory. The way that on the first day of kindergarten, I was made fun of for liking The Little Mermaid. I’ll never forget it. I was so hurt. Maybe he’ll do something like that, innocently because he doesn’t understand how restrictive gender norms can be (and how could he?). And then he will no longer be perfect.
It happens to us all, that’s the reassurance. There are so many rites of passage we humans go through. First words, first steps, first day of school, first kiss… but nothing, nothing, is as life changing as the first time we hurt someone else. A switch gets pulled.
On that fateful day, whenever it comes, we will drop out of perfect heaven and rocket down to hurtful earth, alone with the residue of the pain we caused.
But it’s necessary. Because many years later, on one fine day, that small little life changing event will hopefully lead us to empathy.
A parent can only hope.