Today I finally forced myself to caulk the molding I put up in Fluffer’s room ages ago. I have been procrastinating this so long because I have considered myself a subpar caulker and consequently hate it. Even when a secret admirer (J-Mac?) left a tube of caulk, caulk gun, and these handy dandy caulk caps tied up in ribbon on my doorstep weeks ago, I couldn’t face the thin white line.
But then I started reading Mindset by Carol Dweck. I’ve talked about her research before in the context of praising children. In a nutshell, children praised for their innate ability (intelligence, talent, beauty, goodness) tend to develop a fixed mindset which makes them afraid to try anything they might not be immediately good at because any difficulty or failure challenges their view of themselves as innately wonderful and consequently threatens their fragile self-esteem. In contrast, children praised for their effort and development (process praise) tend to develop a growth mindset in which they believe they can always substantially improve at whatever they are working on through consistent effort. They take more risks, they handle failures and setbacks better, and they function better socially.
I loved the book which I finished during the caulking and will have to say more about it in a separate post. Basically, if you have ever wanted to feel terrible about everything you’ve done up to this point to bolster your child’s self-esteem, this book is the place to start. As someone who has had a fixed mindset about a lot of things for a very long time, I found the book down right exciting–except for the same old a) sports stories, b) CEO stories, and c) an interpretation of the movie Groundhog Day that seem to be obligatory furniture in books of this sort. I did really enjoy all the trash talking of John McEnroe, though.
So as I’m listening to this book triple speed on Audible and caulking away, I absolutely start to apply the growth mindset to caulking. Instead of blaming the wiggly walls, the sticky caulk, my fear of heights, my naturally shaky hands and the heat (although all and each of those things suck) or allowing myself to be defined by my previous caulking experiences, I start to think about how I can improve at caulking. What can I do to be a better caulker? First thing: cut a really clean hole on the tube of caulk and cut it smaller than usual. Second, carry around a wet towel instead of paper towels to wipe up extra caulk. Third, wear latex gloves to smooth out the caulk line with my finger tips. Fourth, commit to being here a long time. Slow down and do a more careful job.
I can proudly say that I am a better caulker today than I have ever been before. I can also proudly say that I actually enjoyed doing it. I wasn’t judging and condemning myself for my imperfections as I normally would because I didn’t allow myself to tie up a whole lot of my self-worth in the outcome of the trim as I normally would.
And how did it turn out? Kent Kemeny took a look at the finished product and gave it two thumbs up, i.e. declined to commit to a verbal assessment. But I had already decided I was very happy with my progress and confident in my ability to do even better on the next project.
And now, I need to watch some youtube videos on wallpapering since I’ve never done that before. I hope my biographers will say of me “She was the kind of girl who would try anything once,” and “She was the kind of girl who got caulk guns from secret admirers.”
Speaking of youtube videos, I didn’t spend the whole day caulking. I took some time out to turn the sprinklers on for the kids and even run the hose down the playset slide. These aren’t the farthest launches, but they are the farthest I was able to record.