02 March 2014

Teaching Failure

It can be hard teaching your child to fail.  Not that you actively teach him to do his worst and seek out defeat.  But he needs to learn how to fail because there are times that he will.  Matt and I have tried to approach failure realistically, letting Isaac know that we have both failed more times than we can count.  But we are also teaching him to find his strengths and to find success in results that other people may view as failings.

The Male Bakeoff theme for this year was something to do with the beach (I can't remember the exact wording, but it involved clever wordplay).  Upon hearing what the theme was, Isaac decided he wanted to make "Sharknado."  Very loose beach connection, but why not?  So, he and Matt worked out a plan and they created their masterpiece out of rice crispie treats, cotton candy and gummy sharks.  It was pretty impressive. (It was also recreated after a major structural fail the morning of the Bakeoff, but that is another story.)

One thing to note about the planning that goes into the Cravey men's Bakeoff entries -- how edible it will be is not necessarily considered.  I am not sure if the judges actually tasted the "Sharknado," but they were impressed enough by its appearance to award it the "Weirdness Cup."  Isaac was thrilled.  And he now has a mug to match his dad's set.

Later that week, the "People's Choice" awards for the Bakeoff were announced and Isaac got his second trophy -- 3rd Place People's Choice.  You would have thought that he had won the lottery, he was so excited.

After the Bakeoff, we turned our attention to the Pinewood Derby.  There are incidents in Matt's past that caused him great anxiety about this event, and since neither of us are skilled with power tools, we were not looking forward to it.  Isaac and I browsed Pinterest for inspiration and he found a car design that I felt confident we, with our limited skills, could handle.  Thankfully, we had help from some very generous fellow scouts and church members and managed to get the car ready for the big day.  We knew it probably wouldn't win any races, but Matt and I were keeping our fingers crossed that it would at least not be last in every race.

Isaac was visibly nervous before his first run, so I don't think he heard the race announcer comment that car #61 was one of the most original he had seen in all of his years working with the Derby.  Isaac's car placed 4th in his Den, so no racing trophy.  But later that day, when the final awards were announced, he walked out with a monster of a "Most Original Car" trophy, and a huge grin on his face.

In case you can't tell from the picture, Isaac's car was an ice cream sandwich.  Thank goodness for Pinterest and for Paul Hicks!

To put both events in the perspective of our family's view of competitions like these, the harder other people try to take it seriously, the harder we try to make it fun.  This is not to say that we are not competitive.  Put a board game on the table and the claws come out!  But we know our strengths, and we play to them well.  We know that we will not be the best tasting, the fastest, the most polished, professional looking competitor.  But we can make something that will be memorable.  We find success in bringing humor to what can become a tense competition and putting smiles on people's faces.  

Isaac is a smart, talented kid.  But there are things he is not good at, too, and he needs to learn to accept those weaknesses so that he can make the most of his strengths.  This is something that Matt and I are still learning how to do ourselves, so maybe Isaac could have better teachers.  But we are what he was given, so we will do our best to teach him to fail with humor and grace.  If we can do that, then we will have succeeded.

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