My name is Lea Ann, and my child has an F in the grade book.
[here you say, “Hi, Lea Ann.”]
I carried this private shame for too long, thinking no mother has ever given her son an F. Should we not have responsible, studious children? Does not proper homeschooling equal delighted learners? Is it not the homeschool mom’s job to instill this life-long love of learning which yields children who are above average and, at least the men, good looking?
Wait, that’s Lake Wobegon. I live in Dallas. I see a problem with my assumptions, already.
So after carrying my dirty little secret around for a long time, the tension within me finally gave way and I exploded in failure before my fairly forgiving friends. You will never guess what they confessed:
Their children sometimes fail, too.
And get this … sit down first, lest you hurt yourself …
Homeschool moms frequently fail.
I know. World rocked, right?
When I finally picked myself up off the floor and dusted my skirt off, I found that failure didn’t mean the end for everyone else, and by my lesson planner, it did not need to signal the end of me and mine, either. There is a lot to be learned from an F.
1. Failure is Inevitable.
I know this is true, but isn’t it easy to forget? I too easily expect perfect papers, instant recall, and flawless performance “because you are capable” but for pete’s sakes, we are not always capable! Only God is that omnipotent!
Humanity = failure. Failure in judgement, failure in perfection, failure in understanding, failure in consistency. If I crave forgiveness and grace for my manifold failings (can’t they see I’m trying?! I can’t be expected to do it all, all the time!) why am I not quick to give the same to my young minions?
2. Tasks are frequently more difficult than we expect.
Homeschooling is harder than we thought. Algebra is harder to explain than I ever anticipated. Keeping the house clean is nigh on impossible.
And life is hard for our students, too! The paper takes longer to write, the piano piece harder to master, and the test more difficult to pass than they might think. These young people have not had the years of trial-and-error that we parents have utilized, and they don’t have the benefit of experience to teach them that things are tough out there!
I should not be surprised that my child is caught off guard. I am, too!
3. Some lessons can only be learned by failure.
And even more surprising, that is not a bad thing.
While reminding my son of his less-than-stellar tests, he pointed out something I had missed:
He learned a valuable lesson from each poor grade and has not yet repeated the same mistakes (he is just finding the entire range of errors possible on each one separately, come to find out).
- One test taught him to study his spelling carefully.
- Another test showed him to carefully read what the question is asking.
- His last test taught him that if the teacher asks for answers in complete sentences, a definition itself is not a complete sentence and should be reworded appropriately.
He has learned essay forms, memorization techniques, and study strategies by trial-and-error (things he would have learned in school if he had been tested any time the last ten years!), and he has doubtless more to learn from.
I could have — and DID — lecture him on these areas ad nauseum, but by failing in each he has realized the importance and developed a bit of discipline to do better. That is a life skill itself.
4. There is life after failure.
There had better be, because I fail every day, now that I think about it. Some are small failures, like not getting the whites folded before my husband gets home or making everyone eat too much artichokes and get belly aches.
Others are big failures like rebuking a child in anger, being petty with my husband, or deleting every single image on the company website [and becoming legendary for the biggest work screw-up. Yep, that’s me].
None of those failings define me, because by God’s grace he loves me, paid the debt of all my shortfalls, and declared me perfect!
Let’s pause and reflect on that a moment.
And now, let’s present a wiser view of failure to our minions, that they may go on with greatness.
Failing does not mean I am a failure. Only if I do not learn from my failings have I truly failed. When I fail and rise up again wiser from the experience, I am a success.Click to Tweet