Logic says that this is not the year for me to try to write a story every day in March. I have report cards to write this weekend. I have parent-teacher conferences later in the month. I have a wife who’ll be having foot surgery in a little over a week, and, because the timing makes no sense, or because his ears look too floppy to resist, we’ve decided that this month will be a good month to adopt a new puppy. I also have that pesky teaching thing that goes along with the report cards and the conferences.
Last week I was reading a book that our staff is reading together this year. In it, Jimmy Casas says that every kid should “build a résumé of failures…and so should the adults.” He goes on to say, “Failure should not be something that brings us shame; it helps us grow!”
I have failed more than a few times in my life. There have been the comic fails, like when I was 30 and decided to ski for the first time. A low-stress day on the bunny slope with my four-year-old nephew would be a great way to ease into the sport, I imagined. Somehow, though, I found the bunny slope surprisingly challenging. After I fell for the fourth or fiftieth time on that first run, young Thomas, all 3-foot-1 of him, shushed past me trailing an effortless cloud of powder. “You’re getting much better, Uncle Peter!” he yelled over his shoulder, a blur as he hurtled fearlessly toward the base of the hill.
There have been the embarrassing fails, like the time that Sam Debone, my counselor at day camp, decided that I needed to be more of a leader. He had me swim the final leg, the freestyle leg for the medley relay in our camp swim meet. My team was ahead by half a pool length when I dove into the pool for my leg. We lost by nearly that much. I was a different kind of anchor for my team.
Then there was my high school graduation, where I failed to listen to the instructions at the rehearsal. Our class had about 700 students. Apparently, if the person in front of you was not in attendance at the ceremony, you were supposed to hand a red card to a proctor so that they would remove that person’s name from the list. Failure to heed this rule might mean that when it was your turn to walk across the stage, after your family had waited hours to get to the V portion of the alphabetical roll, you might not get the introduction you anticipated. You might, instead be introduced by a slightly confused principal as…Elaine Voith, or something like that. Yep, that could happen.
So, I guess, with that, I’ll take this approach as I enter into this March challenge: If I manage to write a slice every day, I’ll be setting a good example of discipline and commitment for my students, and if I fail…well, it’ll look good on my résumé.