Failure Is the First Part of Success

Good morning, and happy Hump Day! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Mom always said three things in life are certain – death, taxes, and my grandson asking me to make him some eggs. Okay, that last one is a recent twist on an old saying, but you get the picture. We have the grandkids twice a week, and the little guy loves his eggs. Or he loves getting Grandpa off his butt to cook. I’m not really sure which takes precedence.

My granddaughter leans toward getting me into the kitchen so she can curl up in my spot on the couch. I always offer her breakfast, but she passes. The nap is more important. Except last week when she waited until I turned the stove off and then came in and said, “I changed my mind.” Girls are allowed to do that. I don’t tell her that, but those are the rules. My wife says so.

I was born to be a grandpa. I saw a tee shirt once that said, “If I’d known grandchildren would be so much fun, I’d have had them first.” That pretty well sums it up. They really are more fun. That probably has something to do with the fact that we can send them home. That and the fact we’re too tired to supervise every single move they make. That’s their mother’s job.

Also, I’ve got 20 years of experience in this role. With your own kids, you learn as you go. Kinda like an airline pilot making his first landing in a Cessna. It’s usually not pretty. I took flying lessons, and I’ll never forget the landing that set my feet permanently on the ground. And to this day, that plane blames me for every problem it’s ever had.

But with grandkids, we’ve already made a lot of the mistakes. We’ve had time to look back and realize that what we once thought was a big deal isn’t worth the tears. Maybe that’s because we’ve been through the teenage years, so we have a little more perspective on just how bad it can get. Either way, we mellow with age. “Oh, so he took the car for a spin. He didn’t hurt it.”

Okay, that last one was just for fun, because I have a strict rule about preschoolers driving my cars. I taught their mother to drive, so I know the stupid things they can do. They’re not even allowed in the front of the RV when it’s parked, because they think it’s a playground. You don’t even want to turn the key after they’ve been up there.

So, we make rules, but some of those rules are a lot more lenient than they were with our own kids. I think that’s normal. Part of it is realizing the kids really aren’t hurting anything, and part is realizing you never really liked that vase to begin with. In less time than you’d spend polishing it just once, you can sweep up the broken pieces and be done with it.

Don’t get me wrong. Rules are important, and kids need some boundaries. But, where our own kids got stuck with a set of rookie parents, our grandkids get the benefit of age and experience. And that’s okay. Our own parents were first timers as well and look at how we turned out. Okay, maybe that’s a bad analogy. I was the guy my high school class voted “Most likely to serve time.” Ha! Fooled them!

The thing is, we learn from our mistakes. We learn that feelings are more important than spilled milk, and that we’re going to replace that new sofa at some point anyway. Sure, teach them to be careful, but don’t expect miracles. They will make mistakes. They will have accidents. And they will talk back. It’s all part of growing up. And so is eating soap, in case you were wondering.

And here’s the thing – you’re still growing, too. You may think you’ve reached full maturity, but as long as you’re still breathing, you’re still learning. And that means you’re still making mistakes, spilling milk, and talking back. Hopefully you don’t make yourself eat soap, but most of us are pretty hard on ourselves when we fall short of perfection. And that happens a lot.

So, ask yourself the same questions you’d ask your kid. Did you mean to mess up? Did you at least try to do it right? Do you know what you did wrong? If so, you know how to make it better the next time. And that’s the key to getting through life – try your best now and get it right the next time.

Give yourself the same chance you’d give your kids (or your grandkids). Give yourself a little compassion. And most of all, give yourself permission to fail. Because it’s in failing that we learn to succeed.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Kids Learn The Darnest Things

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

Today I’ve got my four-year-old grandson with me. In other words, somebody I can relate to on an intellectual level. As I sit here on my computer, he’s working on his. We do this a lot, except I think sometimes his output is a little more advanced than mine. He’s doing his ABCs, which everybody can understand. Even me. Some of what I write is a little less coherent.

Kids love to imitate the things we do. I remember my oldest grandson trying to write jokes for me to use onstage. Thinking back to how some of my own material did, maybe I should have given his jokes a try. But then I’d have to admit he’s funnier than I am, and that’s something no self-respecting comedian can do. Besides, his cut of the $12 after gas would leave me broke.

I’ll never forget the time we were driving in my truck and somebody in front of me was going annoyingly slow. I finally vented some of my frustration to the windshield (I do that a lot) and said, “Drive or get off the road!” My grandson, without missing a beat, offered a suggestion. “Flip ‘em off!” He was three. And no, he didn’t learn that from me. He learned it from his mom, who learned it from … well, never mind.

A few years ago, I decided to build a shed. Not because I couldn’t buy one that would do the job just fine, but because I smacked my forehead with a sledgehammer forty years ago and sometimes it makes me do stupid things. Okay, I hit it really hard. As in, lights out. I remember waking up to a group of guys standing around me and one asking, “Is that boy day-ed???”

So, when it came time for a new shed, I did what any real man does. I went to the lumber store. A sane man would have drawn a set of plans first, but if you’re talking about me that ship already sailed. That’s okay. I used to write Air Force maintenance manuals. Think about that the next time a C-130 flies over your head.

Still, I knew what I wanted to build, and I had a vision in my head. My grandson was too naïve to ask questions. He just assumed I knew how to do it. And three years later, it’s still standing proud. We did an awesome job, and he learned a lot in the process. All because a teenage boy wanted to hang out and bond with Grandpa.

He did most of the work and picked up a few new skills along the way. Like rough carpentry, siding, and roofing. But I still say his favorite part was tearing down the old one. I hooked a nylon strap to the inside of the roof and wrapped the other end around the axle of my truck, then handed him the key and said, “Knock yourself out!” It was down in two seconds flat.

As we stood back and admired the finished product (the new shed, not the old one), I told him “You’ve learned some new skills here. You may never want to do any of this again, but you’ll always know you can.” I told my daughter the same thing when she learned to replace her car’s brakes. That’s how I roll. Get them to do the work and make ‘em think it was a lesson.

My daughter never has replaced her brakes again. She decided it was easier to get a decent job and pay somebody else to do that stuff. But my grandson has found that he enjoys construction and remodeling. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s an honest living, and there will always be a demand for somebody with those skills.

Kids learn more from us than we think. Some of those things will serve them well in adulthood, and others will be a reminder of why they want something better. But all shape the person they become. So, share those experiences with them – the good and the bad. Let them see how you handle challenges. They’ll learn more from your approach than any skill you can impart.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved