It's become common to hear the expression, 'it's okay not to be okay’ on social media. However, how often do we tell our children this? I can see that, both as parents, but also as teachers, we sometimes have unreasonably high expectations of our children that they will perform at the highest level and achieve their best all the time. But, in truth, we as adults will have experienced many times that this just isn't possible or achievable all of the time. Sometimes we fall short and either fail at a task or produce something that we know is less than perfect. And though it may be tempting to feel a failure or give ourselves a hard time, in reality the only sustainable approach is to forgive ourselves, put it behind us and move on.
So this morning, in assembly, I reminded the children that last week I'd set myself and them the challenge of learning something new. I explained that I was going to build a bird box from some scrap wood, learn to knit and try and exercise every day.
Despite having fully expected to achieve all of these challenges, I had to admit to the children this morning that in fact, I had partially failed. I'm very proud of my bird box - I think it's the best that I could have achieved with the materials and time available. In all honesty, I'm pretty disappointed with my knitting; there are dropped stitches all over the place and my teacher, Mrs Trueland, tells me that my 'tension' is erratic. But it was the exercise challenge - the thing that I would have predicted would have been the easiest - where I failed most spectacularly. The weather has been grim, I've had an attack of gout and somehow it just hasn't happened.
So I've had two options…do I feel a failure and give myself a hard time? Or do I cut myself some slack and accept that sometimes we fall short and that’s okay? I asked the children and their response was that I should accept that we can't always be perfect or achieve everything.
I finished my assembly by suggesting that they should also do the same…
On another matter, I wanted to bring to your attention Amanda Gorman, American Youth Poet Laureate, who spoke at the Inauguration ceremony this week. Her uplifting, searingly honest and hope filled poem really hit a spot with me. So I was overjoyed when my old friend, former war artist and professor of illustration, Xavier Pick, released this brief video; I really do commend it to you:
John F Gilmour