Somehow, the school holidays are over, and The Campground Kid goes back her second year of school on Monday. Which, of course, means that I spent half my Saturday night covering books. We managed to avoid it for her first half-year, so this is the first time I’ve brought out the duraseal in probably 20 years. That fact is a little unbelievable to me (how did I get so old? how is my kid five-and-a-half? what even is time?), and is also why I’d entirely forgotten how annoying and hard covering exercise books is.
I used to pride myself on my book covering skills. I was creative (printing pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio and Alanis Morissette to collage my books or covering them like brown paper packages), and had a knack for getting them neat. Twenty years later, I could remember the basics, and one of my recent tasks involved applying A4 sized stickers (which involves similar bubbling and creasing issues), so I thought that me and my library-card-smoother had this in the bag. If we came rolling into school on Monday in total chaos, at least we were going to do it with well-covered books.
Well… let’s just say, I overestimated my talents. The fronts are better than the backs, but all of The Campground Kid’s books have creases. At least one of them is off centre to the point that it’s only just covered. I didn’t buy enough of the mermaid creatures + ice creams, so two of the six are covered with old Richard Scarry book pages (I like those ones better, but I suspect the five-and-a-half year old may not feel the same way). They’ll do the job, and at the end of the process, I’m just glad that the worst one (which I was considering buying a replacement for it’s such a mess) is a random book that somehow ended up in the school pile not the home pile, and doesn’t need to be seen by anyone else.
The book covering itself is not really noteworthy (but when you spend over an hour of your Saturday night doing a dumb job, sometimes you just want to share it). But I like to read too much into everything, and my hour of sticking and durasealing and trying to smooth/undo the worst parts was a reminder for me that when you don’t do something regularly, whatever skills you had can easily be lost. I’m not going to cover books more than I absolutely have to in order to retain skills, OF COURSE, but the idea applies more broadly: a “talent” for something quickly becomes meaningless if you don’t do it and work at it.
Growing up, I had a “natural talent” for quite a few things. And it was fairly easy to avoid most of the rest. But over the years I’ve realised that this avoidance strategy wasn’t the best plan. Because some things just need to be done. And some things you just want to do. And even if you don’t do the best job, it’s okay. Like, it’s REALLY okay. No one is going to care if the books aren’t crease free. No one is going to care if your house is a mess at the end of your busiest six weeks of the year. No one is going to care if you fill a whole sketch book with mediocre sketches. No one is going to care if your dough doesn’t rise sometimes. No one is going to care if you don’t blog for ages (AGES!) and then your first blog back is a bit of a jumble (right?!)
Forget about talent. Do the things you have to do. Do the things you want to do. Do things badly. Do things slowly. Come back to things you haven’t tried in ages. Put your energy into doing things instead of worrying about school and kid friendships and how you haven’t given your kid a proper holiday because you have to work too much. Practice and get better at things if you want to. Keep on doing them badly if you want to. Give them a go occasionally or do them often.
Just don’t stress about doing things badly to the point that you don’t do them at all.
Good enough is good enough.
It’s going to be okay.
Your kid’s going to be okay.
(And it’s going to be bloody great to get back into a routine!)