As a parent, it is easy to identify what our kids are not doing correctly, how they “should” do something or to be frustrated when they make mistakes. When I was a kid, if you made a mistake, it appeared parents felt it was imperative to make you feel ashamed or to blame you. It didn’t seem to matter what the actual mistake was nor where you were at developmentally.
So with our kids, we try to soften the blow. In fact, there have been moments, where I’m both surprised and amused to hear J say, ” Dada, you know what we say when we make mistakes…..yeah for mistakes.” It came from more of a wish on our parts to allow them room to feel like mistakes are a part of learning. However my inner cynic needs to point out, this is not something that either my wife nor I have truly come to internalize. We are more likely to convey a mixed message of “holy crapt, you did what!!!…I mean Yeah for mistakes..”
On Friday, I was feeling productive. So I decided to clean the Honda Odyssey rugs. I did a pretty thorough job. However since my wife and I were leaving for a short trip, I thought I’d put the rugs back in the van, even though, they weren’t fully dry. A little voice inside my head said, open the windows, let them dry some more. I ignored the voice.
So today, I told my wife I was going to put one of the rugs, which had been out to dry, in the van, before we load up the boys for camp. When I opened the door, the van stunk. It was damp and musty. But I thought I could cover up the smell. It took the boys coming in and saying,”oooooooh what’s that smell” and racing out of the car for me to accept it really stunk.
And then I heard, “mom, Honda really stinks.” Internally, I felt myself regress to a kid preparing to be scolded for making a mistake. She came in, clearly trying not to say anything as her face contorted this way and that. We opened up the windows to air it out. She acknowledged that she had wanted to tell me to leave the rugs out and didn’t. And as they all switched cars and went in the smaller Nissan sentra, I stayed and tried to turn up the air conditioning, and air out the car. And then I smiled, laughed to myself and said, “yeah for mistakes.”