Failure and Fantastic are both F words

I think I’ve been pretty good about not using the F word as much in my blog as I do in daily life.   Not that I have a deficient vocabulary, but ya know, sometimes the F word just says it all and more.

Recently I learned the child unit is hovering around F status in some classes at school.  I happened to be in the company of Ms. Home-schooled her kids when I got the “Mayday, Mayday” auto-email from the school concerning dipping grades.  Ms. Homeschool wanted to know how I felt about it and what I was going to do.

I’ll admit, I used to get my panties in a bunch about anything lower than a C – I mean really, you’re talking to Ms. Valedictorian, National Honor Society.   My kids are smart and I expect them to utilize the natural talents they were given.   To learn discipline and perseverance and to take enough pride in what they do to do a good job.

Not so much anymore.   I realize there are things more important than a grade.  Here’s how the conversation used to go:

“Your grades are down.  No more xBox or TV until they are up.  No going out with friends, either.”

Nowadays, when grades dip, this is how the conversation goes:

“Do you like your teacher?   Do you like the subject matter?   Do you feel you understand what they want you to learn?  Can you think of anything in life you want to do that having this information could help you with?   Did you hurry through the work because there was something else you wanted to do more?   Did you think the assignment was stupid?  How did you feel the day of the test?  Sleepy? Hungry? Sad?”

This kind of approach makes the whole process a lot easier on me and I’m pretty sure more enjoyable for my child.

Not always readily accepted as the best approach in the educational crowd – also not deemed very productive by the workaholic crowd, perfectionist or disciplined parenting crowd.

Check back in 10 years and I’ll let you know if my child is in therapy or not, what kind of life he has and whether he has to have pharmaceutical help to get up in the mornings and to sleep at night.

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I was raised to always do my best.    What I don’t remember being told was my best is going to vary from day to day.   And that others may have a different definition of what “best”  actually means.   Not that I think my parents failed me – I just don’t remember getting that information – you know, kids don’t always listen.

For years I beat my head against a brick wall and made myself sick, trying to make sure my ‘best’ was considered ‘best’ by external forces – coworkers, spouses, friends, etc.

Which meant my whole self-identity was wrapped up in what those around me felt and just where did that leave me if they were having a bad day?

My point exactly.

I also bought into the “don’t rest on your laurels” ideal hook, line and sinker.  Which meant I never really reveled in the thrill of accomplishment.  I was too busy trying to figure out what next grand thing I could do that would top what I just did.

Horrific way to live, if you ask me.   Nevertheless, I lived that way for a long time.

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It’s so much more important to me to guide my children to the path that’s best for them – to instruct them on how to be their own best friend.   To be aware that some days you’re the bug, some days you’re the windshield and if you’re lucky, some days, you get to be the air.

To aide them in determining what their best is, to fully enjoy every accomplishment and then define what the next level of achievement looks like – not because they have to do better or do more, but because they yearn to stretch and grow.

I wish for a world where Success is an experience everyone yearns for and is possible for all, because it is not so rigidly and narrowly defined.  (Avid sports persons will tell you my vision is what is absolutely ruining little league teams….)  Competition can engage us in pushing past self-imposed limits – it can also be taken too seriously and the whole Win/Lose paradigm is just not really to my liking, I don’t care what Darwin says.

I’d like to see Failure taken off the F word list.

What did Edison say?   Ah yes…

“I know 114 ways NOT to make a light bulb.”

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10 thoughts on “Failure and Fantastic are both F words”

  1. Loved this write.. And so long as they do their best that is all that matters.. So many put too much pressure on children too early on in their lives.. Its ok being academic, but other skills too are needed, I do F- ear for the children of today… Its ok all of this technology, and yet even my children who grew up with calculators in helping them solve maths were not taught how we were to do mental arithmetic.. No adding up other than in our heads. LOL.. and I F-ailed at maths.. LOL.. Well I was never top 🙂 my average of mental arithmetic was either 6 or 7 out of 10.. Loved Long division though remember them? or maybe you don’t as you worked out how to divide that went right down the page..
    Common sense too is needed, and basic skills which in my day were taught at school, such as woodwork, Homecrafts, I learnt how to sew, cook.. There is more to life than coming Top of the class.. and from my own experience we do not need to come top to become achievers 🙂

    Great post .. 🙂
    Sue x

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    1. I tell my son that as long as he can do the math for daily things in his head, then good enough (how much change if bill is 16.73 and you give them a $20? – How do you split 1/3 cup measurement in half for this recipe?) 🙂 Learning home skills and the math/logic to do them (cutting fabric, modifying recipes, etc.) are all life skills that I think fall under the parents’ domain! LOL

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  2. Totally perfect! I homeschooled my son because I didn’t want him to learn how to be plain vanilla with proscribed things he had to do to be “successful”. Success is totally subjective. I would be judged a complete fruitcake by most of the “successful” people I know. But I live in the air ……… and thanks for that analogy!

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    1. As Jeremy Rifkin observed, “All economics depend on photosynthesis’ – – Learning to live beyond our cultural standards is, at times, a lonely endeavor, and, as a parent, so often many battles to wage, but so totally worth it! I hope that through our honest communications, we can change the definition of ‘success” in our culture! – 🙂

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        1. Nah – those who want to rule the world always come within a inch of destroying it – would much rather raise involved citizens who think for themselves – if we all do that, then a few generations from now, there will be no need for a ruler to force people, everyone will know what’s in their and the planet’s best interest – 🙂

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