A few weeks back, I made biscuits with Little Person. By which I mean, we measured and mixed the dough for shortbread biscuits, and she had great fun cutting out shapes. Getting the shapes on the tray was my challenge. Smiles all round, biscuits in the oven, timer on. Little Person went outside to help The Dude wash the car. I went upstairs to write.
That’s how the biscuits got burnt. Not to the point of crumbling carbon, but very firmly brown and inedible. But it wasn’t about eating the biscuits anyway.
Fast forward. We’d bought Little Person some Lego – slightly more advanced than what she can do normally, but I sat with her and we made it together. She did well, finding pieces and working out how to follow the instructions. She had occasional times when her attention drifted, but that’s what I was there for. Not to keep her on task, but to make sure that the task kept moving forward.
She was very proud of her efforts. Her grandfather came over to take a look. He had a go. Little bricks went flying. Little Person not very impressed. But Gramps said sorry, and we fixed it. And then Little Person gave Gramps a lesson in how to play with Lego.
“Oh, very good,” he said. Which is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Lego-Building.
Here’s the thing. I burnt the biscuits, Little Person forgot to stay on task building Lego, and Gramps played with it a bit wrong. We all made mistakes. A year ago, I would’ve thought the burnt biscuits were a symbol of my failure as a baker, the Lego my failure as a mother, and Gramps playing a failure of our family structure. (I over-analyse.) But they were mistakes, not failures.
The burnt biscuits were just burnt biscuits. Another day, I won’t cook them so long. Little Person is young, and it’s okay if her attention wanders. She kept coming back to the task. And Gramps? Well, if he hadn’t made the mistake with the Lego, Little Person would never have had the chance to demonstrate her skills and expertise in the area of Playing With Lego. Which was excellent for her confidence.
Mistakes? Yes. Failures? No. Don’t make your mistakes bigger than they really are.