Conversations with my son: Making Mistakes, Facing Failure

He opens the van door, sweat trailing off the ends of his hair, his nose, dirt streaked down the side of his face, water bottle in hand.

“Did you have fun?” I ask I-man, our eleven-year-old, third born son.

“Yes. But there’s one thing I really regret tonight!” he says as he plops in the front passenger seat.

“What’s that?” I ask as he buckles in.

“Well, I was running for a touchdown and somehow I just dropped the football, just slipped right out of my hands,” his voice tightens with self-reproach.

As I back up and pull out of the parking lot, heading for another field where another football-playing son waits in pads and helmet in the heat, I observe,

“Do you realize that every time I ask you how practice went, you start by telling me about your mistakes?”

“I do?” he says. I can hear the sheepish half-smile in his voice.

“Yup. Why do you think that is?”

“Because I feel bad about my mistake.” His blond head droops over his chest.

“I can understand that. It doesn’t feel good to mess up. But if the main thing you remember after every practice is your mistakes, what do you think that will do?

“Make me feel bad about myself and then when I feel bad, I play bad.”

“Yes, that’s true. Humans make mistakes. It’s what they do. Is it wrong to make mistakes?”

“No!” He says loud, his fist punching the air, “Even the NFL players make mistakes. Bad ones!”

“Mistakes are just part of being human—how do they help you?”

“They help me learn and be better,” he says.

“Yes, and mistakes remind you that you’re only human and that’s how God made you to be. Did God make you a good football player?

“Yes,” he replies without hesitation.

“So, tell me, what good things happened at practice tonight?”

“Playing with my friends. It’s so fun. It’s boring playing catch all by myself. I just love being with my friends. That’s the best part of football.”

“A good gift from God. Both our mistakes and our fun with friends are gifts that help us grow and be more human, like God created us to be.”

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