My son had his bike stolen at the weekend.
As he sat there on the bench in our hallway with tears streaming down his face, I comforted him and wanted to say it’s okay. I dug deep and tried to find that part of me that said “me too, I’ve done something like that too. We all make mistakes. We learn from them.”
There was a part of me that wanted to admonish him for forgetting he’d taken his bike to the park and instead of cycling home, walked home, leaving a very expensive BMX unpadlocked for anyone that took a fancy to it to freely take it.
Did I have irritated thinking and want to shout that is was a stupid thing to do? YES
Could I recall when I had done something similarly stupid? YES.
Let me tell you when he was a new baby and his sister was a toddler I remember going out in the car. Our road has on street parking, (no driveways or garages as the houses are Edwardian). I pushed the Bugaboo pram up to the car, lifted and strapped the kids in and then drove off leaving the very expensive Bugaboo pram on the pavement. (I did however remember when I was one street away and circled back round, parked again and sheepishly loaded it into the back of the car, feeling very embarrassed and hoped no-one was watching).
I’ve also relatively recently left a very expensive mobile phone on a park picnic bench and realised I didn’t have it when I got home. A very kind person handed it into the café owner so I was reunited with it within 15 minutes.
You see the thing is, we ALL make mistakes. We can pretend we don’t, or try and dodge and manipulate the truth, but of course we all cock up sometimes. I used to pretend I was perfect and never got anything wrong or made mistakes. I thought that was how you were supposed to show up as a decent human. A model of perfection, (I by the way do you know I ended up with CFS?)
Now? Now I see being a decent human being as being someone who is able to be imperfect, vulnerable, honest, open, real and willing to say “Hey I f*@*ed up”.
If you never want to admit mistakes or failures or even be in a position where that may even be possible then you are unlikely to be playing the game of life full out. I want to model this for my kids. I want to be honest and don’t want them to think life is about being perfect and never screwing up.
I remember reading a wonderful story about an entrepreneur that every Friday at dinner would sit his kids down and ask “What have you failed at this week?” and if they said “Nothing”, then he would be sorely disappointed.