Perfect Five

I stared at the first homework problem.

+ 3

I counted two on one hand, three on the other.  That didn’t work, I couldn’t count with the fingers I had out.  I got raisins for a snack.  I made a pile with two, and a pile with three, and counted.  I wrote


That wasn’t right.  I took out my eraser, worn from use, and erased it.  I tried again.


Another erase.  One more try:


Still doesn’t look right.  The eraser tore the paper.

Tomorrow I will turn in homework with jumbled numbers and tape holding it together, my cheeks bright red.

Tonight’s piece was inspired by the Carrot Ranch prompt about perfectionism.  Although when I re-read the prompt, it is not to write about perfection at all.  (Somehow that seems fitting.)  It brought to mind my own Elementary School struggles with homework–struggles not with the work itself, but with the act of doing the work.  That’s where Chelsea is right now.


11 thoughts on “Perfect Five

  1. It’s perfect! In fact, she has “ruby red cheeks.” 🙂 It’s also so heart-warming and actually captures a child’s diligence to get it right, while knowing that the smudges, rips and tape will cause her embarrassment. It serves as a good reminder, too that writers are like this child. We put down a word, hit delete, try another, string more together, build a character, remember visual cues, forget sounds, think about a concept and write far from the mark. We feel like this little girl, turning in our stories, hoping no one comments on the tape. That’s why we need generosity. And our children in school need it , too!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. That is fabulous. So so simple and yet moving. And how you can almost weep at the idea that down the years this child will struggle to fight that urge to perfectionism. Love the shallow surface and deep waters below.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Sarah. That dreaded homework. I feel for the child in you, and the child with you. I would love to wave my magic wand and smooth those struggles away. Your piece is perfect in both the simplicity and power of its message.


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