Joseph was doing some activities that involved writing down numbers and he needed to write the number 4. Recently he has been frustrated that his fours do not look to him like a good enough representation of the number 4, but on this occasion he wrote one while chatting away to himself saying...
"I do a 'L' then do a line through it - there, that looks like a number four to me!"
As I sat listening to him I thought how brilliant it is that Joseph's attempts at anything only ever have to be good enough for him! I don't judge or mark his drawing or writing and so as long as he is pleased with what he produces then that is all that matters. At some point in his life it might be necessary for Joseph to present his skills for critique by another person, (if he wants to take exams or be interviewed for a job for example) but I don't believe he needs to spend his childhood practising for adulthood. At four years-old he is occupied with the very busy and very important task of being a four year-old, and if his representation of the number four is good enough for him, then it's good enough for me too!
I am fairly sure that I could decipher one of Joseph's fours however uniquely it has been represented, in the same way that I know exactly what Charlie wants when he asks for a "fucker", otherwise known as a cracker, or that when Callum appears at his most energetic he is actually in the greatest need of peace, and sleep. As their mummy I make it my job to understand them where others may struggle; it's amazing what love can do :) By the time they need to write numbers, ask for crackers or otherwise communicate their needs without my support they'll have mastered these skills, and so no-one will benefit from knowing how they are 'progressing' in the meantime.
We were at a home-ed get together recently and some of the children were sat drawing at a table. Joseph's picture included a mouse. He turned to me and said,
"That's a mouse. It doesn't really look like a mouse does it?"
"I can see its a mouse" I replied
"So can I" said Joseph, and he happily continued his drawing.
I sometimes wish I'd learned sooner how important it is to be good enough by my own standards rather than worrying how I measure up against somebody else's. Thankfully Joseph is already way ahead of me on this one :)