Friday, January 23, 2015

Parenting with love: dealing with 'mistakes'

It was over a dinner a few days ago when Dumpling went “Mama, I made a careless mistake today. I forgot to fill in the HYPY for my Chinese class work.”

That started a long dinner where she was visibly upset and told me a friend of hers had an A star. She got even madder when I said that her classmate may be better at that task this round but we can always improve the next.

She started tearing and started losing her cool.

Then I realized that she was hurt that I said the other kid was ‘better’.

Sigh. My kiddo is a paradox all on her own – she is intense yet sensitive, mature yet throws the most childlike tantrums at times. Moments like these when I see her trembling lips, I have to bite mine and pray for patience.

Me: “Baby, it is ok, all of us make careless mistakes.”

Her: “No, it is not OK!”

Me: “You will do better next time then.”

Her: “You feel that my classmate is better.”

Me: (inwardly sighing because the Type A genes is from who else but moi?) “Baby, there is a difference between being better at something and just better.”

Her: stoic silence and then she pushed me away with a pencil.

Me: “That hurts ok! Stop doing that. I am not angry nor am I disappointed. Is it a pity, well yes because I know you can do it and you know that you can do it? But is it the end of the world, no. There will be many more instances where we make mistakes, sometimes careless and other times, genuine mistakes.”

Her: eyes brimming with tears

Me: “Why are you upset with me?”

Her: stoic silence

Me: (prayed for grace and it suddenly came to me) “Baby?” (she looked up) “I am really sorry that you are feeling that way. I did not mean to hurt you. Can I give you a hug?”

Her: (bawling her eyes out) "I am so upset with myself! I know that I can do it yet I am so careless. I am so disappointed Mama!!!"

I hugged her till her fat tears trickled to a stop and I felt so guilty. Why? Type A genes aside, it suddenly hit me that as adults, when we go through school work with them, we often chide and nag at them for being careless. It leaves almost no room for them to make mistakes.

It did not occur to me that by doing so, we have unconsciously placed ourselves high up on the pedestal where as parents, we can do no wrong and we have never made any mistakes! All our children hear from us are “why is this not done?” or “Why were you so careless?”

I then spent the rest of the hour sharing stories of some silly mistakes I made, how I double up with a coworker at work to vet and proof read advertisements etc., and that I did not pass my driving exam on the first try!

The society and its expectations are moving along so fast at times, that I often forget that my kid is all but 6. Her little legs may not catch up with me and she may not write as fast as I would like for her, but I realized that time with her and these precious moments where we are ‘present’ and where she enjoys her childhood are far more precious than any ‘mistakes’. 

A buddy with me with this quote today and I would like to share it with you.

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