About Me:

Aloha! I'm Wendy Kennar. I'm the mother of a seven-year-old son and a wife living in Los Angeles. I was a public school teacher for twelve years until a chronic medical condition made it necessary to leave my teaching career.

I've always been described as "quiet" - really, I'm just biting my tongue. I've got lots to say, and lots of thoughts to share, I just prefer to write them. That's the purpose of this blog. Each Wednesday, I post a personal essay offering my observations and thoughts.

A few fun facts about me: I've wanted to be a writer since second grade, when my teacher, Mrs. Jones, made me a "book" with a yellow construction paper cover. I have never learned to whistle, have always preferred sunflowers to roses, and have spent my life living within the same zip code.

Through the years, my writing has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, United Teacher, GreenPrints, L.A. Parent, DivineCaroline.com, RoleReboot.org, XOJane, and Brain, Child Magazine. Additionally, my personal essays have been included in several anthologies, including: The Barefoot Review, Beyond the Diaper Bag, Lessons From My Parents, Write for Light, Being a Grown-Up: A User's Manual for the Real World, Ka-Pow!, How Writing Can Get You Through Tough Times, Breath and Shadow, The Grey Wolfe Storybook, and Sisters Born, Sisters Found.
I am a regular contributor at MomsLA.com, and you can also find me at Goodreads.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Feel free to comment and share my blog with others!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wanting to Avoid Perfection

      My son likes his first grade teacher.  It’s a good thing.  I breathe easier knowing he’s spending so many hours of his day with someone he feels comfortable with.

   And his teacher likes him.  She’s told me that he’s a good worker, that he does everything he’s asked.  But ... 

   (You knew there was a “but” in there), but, she called my son “perfect.”  

   She meant it as a compliment, but I bristled.  I wanted to take her aside and request that she never use that word when referring to my son. 

   When my son was born, I called him perfect.  I don’t think I’ve used that adjective since that night six years ago.  (Here’s the link to an earlier blog in which I wrote about Perfection:  http://wendykennar.blogspot.com/2013/10/perfection.html)

   There really is no such thing as perfection.  I used to tell my students that I was less concerned with perfection and more concerned with effort.  

   Being called perfect is dangerous.  It’s a lot to live up to.  I know.  I was the “perfect student” -- quiet, well-mannered, smart, neat, obedient.  I was the kind of student every teacher hopes for.  And I am pleased that my son is behaving so well at school.  But perfection isn’t easy to maintain.  You’re either perfect or you’re not.  So, I often worried myself sick -- I cried in class, couldn’t sleep at night, and didn’t eat my lunch at school.  It was how I handled (or mis-handled) the responsibility of maintaining my perfection.  And I did it.  I stayed perfect.  Perfect and unhappy.

   Right now, my son is happy.  He likes school.  He likes learning.  He likes recess.  He likes playing with his friends.  He likes p.e.  He likes homework.  Everything is fun.  And that’s the way it should be.  He’s six years old, after all.  

   We’re just getting started on his academic career.  Ryan will be in school for at least the next dozen years.  And I don’t want him spending his student years concerned about being perfect and afraid to make a mistake.  So, I consciously try to praise my son’s efforts rather than his outcome.  “You followed all the directions.”  “You were paying close attention to your teacher.”  “Wow - you finished that whole worksheet.”  “You wrote so neatly.”  

   My son is many things -- creative, funny, serious, smart, happy, affectionate, curious.  He doesn’t need to be perfect.


  1. I am so sorry you had such a hard time in school.It used to kill me to know how much stress it caused you.Ryan is truly an exceptional child.I am so glad he likes school and I hope he always stays that way.Daddy and I are so thankful we have such a wonderful relationship with him.He is a true joy to be with.You are doing a FANTASTIC job in raising him.I love you and I am so proud of you.

  2. I am so glad Ryan loves school. He is a very bright child, and he takes after his mommy. We have a good time when we are together. You are an excellent mommy. Your mother & I are proud of you.
    Love, Dad

  3. I'm so happy he loves school and the teacher loves him. I hope he continues to have a love for learning and for school. I wish I had more kids like him in my class. I love and miss you!!

  4. Honey,
    Your message here is very important. I am so grateful that we are teaching Ryan about doing his best and not worrying all the time about being perfect. You are a wonderful mother to him and I am very proud of how we are raising him.
    I Love You!