We all watched as it came plummeting to the ground……as it hit the concrete the egg did not crack at first- it actually LAUNCHED out and into the air and splatted yolk and white everywhere. Disappointment. Project fail. With his head hung low, he went back to his seat and we went on with the rest of the class. As he sat there I could see the dejection in his face. As a mom, I wanted to go rescue him….tell him it was a great try and he was AWESOME even though his project did not work, etc. but I had this nudge inside of me that said…..no, let him be for now. So I was preparing myself the whole time as to how I would approach him afterwards. Give him the motivational speech about how he is good at SO many other things or the “you are the best glue gunner in the universe” pep talk- which would it be? He came up to me and started talking about the tape that came off and ruined the project, etc. and I simply interrupted him and said, “Maybe you just need to improve the design next time. That one did not work out but I bet you can make another one that will.” He stopped, thought, shrugged, and that was it.
Yesterday was a big day in the 5th grade- the EGG DROP. Students, teachers, and faculty gathered in the school courtyard to witness the students’ contraptions made of popsicle sticks and small cups that would be dropped from 7 1/2 feet with a raw egg inside. The goal- no broken eggs. My son was about 5th in the line up and as his teacher climbed the ladder with his project I could tell my little guy was on the nervous, anxious side.
I was not sure I was the one who actually said what I did. Maybe someone else inhabited my body at that moment when I talked to him? I did not coddle, lie, or help him make up excuses. That is not the me I know! See, I am a rescuer. I want my kids to feel good about themselves and I want to rescue them from disappointment….but I am now a RECOVERING RESCUER.
In the moment when our children fail, we must stop enabling them to blame everyone and everything for things not working out. This never has to be done where it is hurtful, but it can be done where it is very helpful. Instead of blaming the wind or the humidity or the angle of the ladder, I needed to encourage him that next time he could do it better. Now in that moment he knew I loved him, was for him, and supported him unconditionally but helping him be the victim would never shape his character.
We came home that night and what did we do? Bought more popsicle sticks and made a better design. Lesson learned- take the failure and let it shape the new outcome. This space ship looking glue gun masterpiece was dropped by dear ol’ dad from the ladder with no broken eggs- TWICE.
We must let them fail and not protect them from how that feels. I firmly believe we learn more from our failures than we do from our wins. Failing builds character and perseverance when our kids know we are not disappointed in them. It should motivate- maybe not at first but eventually.
I am so thankful for the failed egg drop and the lessons it taught me. As a recovering rescuer, I challenge you to stop protecting your kids from the wisdom that comes from picking themselves up and trying again and again.