Friday, September 13, 2013

Beautiful oops

One great delight of L-the-kindergartner is her new discovery of details that had once delighted her sister as a kindergartner, and their reintroduction to our home is like speaking with old friends. L has the same art teacher that E did then, and the teacher says all the time "there are no mistakes in art." She frees the kids from perfectionism and asks them to consider anything unplanned a "beautiful oops." And now L has reintroduced those phrases to our family. She brought home a beaded chain from aftercare that maybe was supposed to be a bracelet but now is a wall-hanging of sorts and she gave it to me for my desk at work: here, Mama! I made you a beautiful oops! And G wanted one, so the next day she came home with another beaded string: here's your beautiful oops! And he responds: I love my beautiful oops! I always wanted a beautiful oops!

I made a huge oops this week (channel Pretty Woman right now: "Huge mistake! HUGE!").

But E made it beautiful. 

I screwed up. I screwed up so big, I kept repeating, "I don't know the last time I screwed up like this." I was stuck on a loop of disbelief at the utter screwed-uppedness of what I'd done. Such a simple mistake, and such huge ramifications.

Oh, you guys. Here's what I did:

Ever since I began running, E showed an interest in running. And I was thrilled, because that had been one of my not-so-secret goals when I took up running. The 5K that I ran in the spring with a friend was one of those color runs where race staff throw rainbows of color cloud at you while you run. The lovely husband brought the kids to the race to watch and cheer me on, and E was enchanted with the idea of running through rainbows. So she decided she was going to train for a 5K. I took her running throughout the summer. She was determined and dedicated and just needed to build up her endurance, which we did slowly. I was so impressed with this girl.

We ran through the neighborhood and at the high school track, past neighbors who were out walking and past neighbors who were out biking, while her siblings were napping, while her siblings were watching TV, we ran all summer. She's a great running companion, too. Her seven-year-old legs make her pace an easy jog for me, and her wild mind makes her conversation an endless surprise. It's been really fun running with her.

The color runs aren't held nearly as frequently as ordinary 5Ks, and they always sell out. When one is announced, I've now learned, you have to sign up quick, months in advance. So when this race was announced back in the spring, our race, I made her wish come true and registered the two of us. And then I signed us up for another one, this time with friends, in November, because she was so excited. One race just for us, and one later with friends. It was perfect. And then I wrote them both down on the family calendar.

I wrote it on the wrong date. The race that we've been planning since June to run together this Sunday actually was run by people who know how to use their calendars this past Sunday. We missed the race.


I had to tell her and it was awful. "I can't remember the last time I screwed up like this" really means "I can't remember the last time I hurt someone I love like this" and there is no worse feeling than disappointing someone you never want to disappoint. I felt sick.

She fell with great intentional drama to the floor and then sat back up. It's okay, Mommy, she said. Everyone makes mistakes. And then she scooted over to rub my back, and then I started to cry: with relief and with gratitude and with amazement at her grace and wisdom and maturity and compassion and understanding, with revelation that oh, I screwed this up, but this kid. This kid: we haven't screwed that up at all. She's growing up so well.

We're about to begin Yom Kippur, and in all my years of Yom-Kippur-ing, I've never been so clearly handed a message about the power of making apologies, of receiving forgiveness. I felt awful, and then I felt reprieved. It's what I will be thinking about tonight and tomorrow.

We also count our blessings, and among them, I tell you, are that girl, and that race in November.

Gmar tov, peeps. And have a great weekend, all my other peeps.

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