Wednesday, April 19, 2017
This was her second try. Two weeks ago she had a test appointment here in 'Cuse and she failed before she even finished half of the test. It was a stressful ugly day that happened to also be Rob's 40th birthday.
In the end, I'm glad she failed, though. As I wrote in a note to her later that week, we learn more about a person (including ourselves) by how we handle a setback than we can ever learn from a list of that person's successes. Here's what I saw that day and shared with her:
First, she was willing to try. That alone is a huge accomplishment. For months and years she has been hesistant to try new things, try hard things, or just try at all. These days, she's not as afraid of failure and she sees the joy of success enough to know it will be worth it. She also knows she's safe, and that failure isn't the end of any story.
Second, she not only tried, but she was hopeful. She was optimistic. She didn't go in with a fatalistic attitude ("shoot me and get it over with")...she had confidence that it might work out. Daring to get your hopes up is a risky platform to stand on; the fall is much harder. She hoped anyway, and that's awesome.
Third, she was resilient. She took that hit and faced it: she cried, she got angry, she curled up in her bed for awhile...but when I told her a few hours later that we had a new appointment booked for the next available test that I could find anywhere in western or central NY (in a tiny town over 200 miles away since the next one in our neighborhood or anywhere near it was 3 months away..) she squared her shoulders and lifted her chin and said thank you. She didn't get washed down the drain with this set-back.
Fourth, she trusted us enough to let us help her through her disappointment. She let me see her sadness and hurt. She let me rub her back and cluck over her tears. We yelled and shook our fists at the ceiling for awhile together about how rude the examiner guy had been for no reason. She let her team rally around her and she accepted that support.
Finally, (fifth), she set it aside for her dad's birthday. I had told her when we got home that I knew she was angry and upset and that she was totally allowed and expected to be mad and sad. But..that we were also still planning on going out to dinner as a family in about 3 hours so I'd like her to find a way to join us. By the time our dinner plans started, she had showered and perked up and (while understandably a little subdued and tired) she smiled, helped me sneak the waiter a birthday dessert surprise, and played along with the dinner conversation. Awesome.
So while she was sad and upset, I was super proud of the kid I brought to that test two weeks ago, and I was even more proud of the young woman I saw handling the setback of a failure.
Yesterday we drove 3.5 hours to a tiny rural town in SW New York. We drove around that tiny one-stoplight-town for 2 hours learning the hidden streets, parks, and elementary schools. We laid on a park bench in the warm sun and I prayed over her while I combed through her hair with my fingers and just breathed with her. She aced her test and I got the incredible joy of being the first person she told: face beaming, grinning, arms up in victory. She drove off for a victory lap, and when she picked me up a few minutes later we both screamed for joy and hugged and cheered and high-fived and stomped our feet and drummed on the dash. We sang--loudly and badly--to every song we heard on the radio for the 3.5 hour drive home. We were a team and we were proud of her success just as we shared her setback: together.