Mistakes Happen

Mistakes happen.  We make them.  Our children make them.  People make them.  Mistakes are a part of life.

Perfection is impossible.  It won’t happen….ever.  Yet, we push toward it always looking for a special method, system, or path.  Those of us who are older rename our push to one of “excellence” in a effort to ease the pain.

Algebra Mistakes Happen
Image courtesy of Janaka Dharmasena / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today my daughter and I prepared for an Algebra II test.  I first had her do review questions, then I checked them to see what we needed to actually review.

I don’t know why it is like this with math, but the problems missed are never missed because of the concept taught.  The mistake happens in the process.  A negative sign is overlooked, or a basic multiplication problem is miscalculated.

So…we sat at the table for about an hour today going through the process of each problem.  I encouraged her (again) to write every little detail down.

I didn’t get upset.  But, you need to know I wanted to scream when I saw the little mistakes pop up yet again.

Instead I told her that we were going to learn from our mistakes.  We were going to make sure we saw the mistakes, so we would recognize the potential for mistakes in the future.

It was long.  It was tedious.  I even made a few mistakes as I tried to walk her through the problems correctly.

As we finished, my daughter thanked me for the time.  Then, she said something profound.

It’s like dominoes, Mom.  One misplacement will send the whole pile down.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yep, sometimes when mistakes happen, your whole creation comes tumbling down.   But, when it does fall, what do you do with that?  Do you sit and cry over spilled dominoes, or do you start stacking them up again…learning from your mistake?

I wish my daughter didn’t make mistakes in Algebra II.  I wish I could just give her 100 percent for understanding the process, but I still give her the 70 percent.  I let her dominoes fall.

Why?  Mistakes happen.  They always will.  She needs to know how to learn from those mistakes.  She needs to know how to re-build her dominoes.

This morning I read Tim Elmore’s post, “When Preventing Hinders Preparing.”  I loved his defense of mistakes.

Preventing all things bad may actually hinder preparing them for the world that awaits them. – Tim Elmore

I was encouraged that I am not required to prevent my children from making mistakes.  Actually, my stepping in to save the day is hindering them from learning and growing.

If I always step in to make sure the domino is perfectly placed, my children will never know the joy of creating their own path of dominoes.

Mistakes happen.  Mistakes can be good.  Mistakes are our friends…ok, that might be going too far?

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Disclosure:  I have not received any compensation for writing this post.  I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services mentioned.  I am disclosing this in accordance with Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.