I’m sure you were cursing me yesterday because I refused to run home and get the homework you’d forgotten. I know you were frustrated. Understandable–I would have been too if it were me. I saw how hard you worked–even after football practice and getting home late–to get it done. It must piss you off that after all that, you’re still going to be marked down for not handing it in.
I’m sure you thought I was just looking for a way to say “I told you so.” But what you don’t know is that it hurt me to see you upset and frustrated and unsure. What you don’t know is that I had to remind myself more than once that interrupting my plans to go and get it for you was the worst thing I could do.
Why? Because this is one of those stupid little life lessons that suck to learn. It’s one of those little things that suck even more because it’s not that you didn’t do the work–you just forgot it. And let’s face it, we all forget things. Heck, I forget what I went to the kitchen for at least five times a day.
What you don’t know is that the “I told you so” part of remembering to put your homework in your backpack is only one small part of this sucky little lesson. That’s the easy part. Another part? Realizing it’s ok to make mistakes. Realizing that no one is perfect. Part of the forgotten homework lesson is learning how to own your mistake. Part of the forgotten homework lesson is not looking for someone else to blame.
What you don’t know is that I’d be doing you a disservice if I swooped in every time you forgot something or had trouble with something or had a difficult decision to make. What you don’t know is how much I need you to realize that my time is valuable, that it is not ok to assume I will drop everything simply so the you will not have to be in an uncomfortable situation.
These small sucky lessons? They teach you how to hold your head up and admit you made a mistake. They teach you how to handle disappointment, from within and without. They teach you how to accept accountability. Today it was only a piece of Spanish homework, but eventually it’s going to be someone’s feelings, or someone’s heart.
I didn’t bring you your homework because you need to learn to rely on yourself. You’re still young, but these little responsibilities add up to bigger ones. Looking after your homework now is looking after your body later. It’s making sure you have a condom in your wallet. It’s making sure you have an out if you need to extricate yourself from a tricky situation. It’s making sure you if you hurt someone you take responsibility, if you screw up, you accept it, you learn from it, you fix it and move on.
Who would have guessed there were so many lessons to be learned in a piece of forgotten homework, eh? But the biggest one is this: There’s no shame in messing up now and again. The real shame would be if I never let you do it.