The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing. ~John Powell
A couple of Wednesdays ago, I picked Kyle up for our routine swimming lesson and he was at the door, ready to go. Please note, Kyle is never ready. I think he likes having people wait on him, which drives me crazy. He had his book bag on his back and was out the door even before I could walk up the steps. He even had his socks and shoes on. Lately, he’s been trying to get away with wearing his tennis shoes without socks, which is forbidden in my eyes. I thought, umm that’s unusual. Wonder why he’s so punctual today?
Then Kyle got in the car and it seemed like something was wrong. I asked him, “What’s wrong?” and he replied, “Nothing,” in a ‘Something’ way. But I dismissed it, until we were driving and he was very quiet. He’s usually telling me about some game he was playing, or some battle he won, or some Lego he built. But nothing! He was very quiet and reserved, unlike Narrow. I asked again, “What’s wrong buddy? You seem awfully quiet.” He shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know.” I said, “Ok, maybe this is just your down time. I have down time too.” He just smiled but didn’t offer anything more. So as we proceeded to his lessons, I asked the usual, “How was school? What classes did you have today? What did you eat for lunch? and What do you want to eat for dinner?” He was still very quiet and reserved. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he’s not usually forthcoming with any of this information, but at least he gives me a hard time about answering. Not today. He almost seemed upset, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. You see, Kyle wears his heart on his sleeve, his emotions shine through in his expressions and body language. I feel Kyle’s old enough that if he wanted to talk about something, he would. Again, I dismissed it and we went to class. He did pretty good and I can tell he was having fun swimming.
After class he still seemed quiet but, at that point, a friend of mine called and I was on the phone when I met Kyle in the hallway as we walked to the car. To be honest, after I got off the phone I forgot about his odd behavior. We went to the grocery story to pick up a few items for our dinner. I promised him I would make chicken quesadillas. He really didn’t ask me for much while in the store. Usually, it’s ‘Can I have this? Can I have that?’ but nothing. We left the store and went back to my house. As we walked in, Kyle asked if he could help with dinner. I said, “Of course!” Then, as I was unloading the groceries, Kyle came around the corner with his head down and I noticed he was pulling out a piece of folded paper from his pocket. He started to say, “Aunt Heather, I have to show you this, but I didn’t want to show you before swimming.” I said, “What is it buddy?” And just then as he unfolded the paper I saw it had big red marks on it and a big letter E.
He was so ashamed and was afraid to show me. I didn’t freak out, I simply said, “What happened?” and he said, “I don’t know, but I got two right.” I said, “Well thank you for showing me and not trying to hide it from me or let me find it on my own, but this is unacceptable. We’re going to have to review it.” He nodded his head ’cause he knew better than argue with me over it. After we made dinner, I sat and reviewed the test with him. I quizzed him and quizzed him to make sure he knew the material. I said, “Kyle you the know the difference between a smart person and a not so smart person?” He said, “No.” I said, “Everyone makes mistakes, but a smart person learns from their mistakes and tries not to make the same ones again. But a person who is not very smart, doesn’t learn at all or doesn’t take the time to learn form their mistakes.” Then I proceeded to tell him, “And the signs of a great leader is how well a person can recover from a mistake and really understand what went wrong and use it to their advantage. Kinda like taking lemons and making lemonade.” He gave me a sideways smile and gave me that look of I know, Aunt Heather. Then I said to him, “You know what Kyle? From the way you learned from your mistakes and as quickly as you did, that shows me you are really smart and you have what it takes to be a GREAT leader!” I proceeded to tell him how proud I am of him for accepting the test as his fault and owning up to it without excuses.
What was even worse, the teacher wanted a signature on the test and he had to ask me to sign it, which is devastating to Kyle. I was more upset, because I don’t ever want Kyle to be embarrassed or ashamed in school and it broke my heart to think his friends saw the test.
Some may say that I am really hard on Kyle, but it’s only ’cause I know he can handle the work and he knows better. Plus, I believe in setting the standards high, not out of reach, but high enough for a challenge. That way, when the child reaches the goal and at one point or another, they will have truly accomplished something. They are that much more proud of themselves. You know what? The following week, we were going over more homework and Kyle was frantically searching his book bag for something. I said, “What are you looking for?” He said, “I wanted to show you my math test, Aunt Heather, I got an A ++!” He was so proud of himself. I was so excited, I told him that was GREAT! We talked about some of the problems on the test that he remembered, but he was so bummed it wasn’t in his book bag. I said, “I believe you buddy and I couldn’t be more proud!” Then, last night Kyle came to me and said he got an A on his science test and he only missed two on his vocabulary test, which was his nemesis. He was especially excited to tell me about that test. He may have been upset over the bad mark a few weeks ago but he sure was on cloud nine from his newest accomplishments. He knows the standards expected of him and he is striving to meet them. He is one smart cat and already a success in my eyes!