Thursday, January 13, 2011

On Failing

The Missoula Children's Theatre is coming to our local community theater. They come every year, twice a year, and put on a production using anywhere from 50-70 kids from the community. They run them through auditions, hold them to rehearsal schedules, pack them into costumes, and finally, help them develop the courage it takes to get up onto a stage and perform.

Last spring, my darling daughter (age 7) got to be a pony in their production of Beauty and the Country Beast. Very cute I must say.

So their next interpretation will be of Sleeping Beauty and darling wants to audition again.

"Okay," says me. "But just remember, you're not guaranteed to get a part."

Darling gives me a blank stare.

"You know," I continue. "They have parts for about fifty kids and there are usually at least two hundred that audition."

She nods her head.

"I'm not saying you won't...just it's not a for sure thing."

"But I probably will."


"I got one last time."

"Yes, but it's still not for sure."

"I know," she says prancing away and up the stairs to start posing and talking to herself in her closet mirror.

"No you don't," I whisper. Not because I don't think she is amazing and bright and capable, and was definitely the best seven year old pony the Missoula Children's Theatre Company ever had. But because there is something she, at seven, does not yet know how to do.

My dear daughter does not know how to fail.

Not that she should. I would like to think that, in general, most of her attempts in this world that occur outside of my or her father's control have been fairly successful. It's true, she did get a part last time. Thank God there were just the right amount of little kids auditioning for the number of little kid costumes the company provides. But, and this is hard for me to admit, she won't always get the part. Sometimes, there will be failure.

And I, having had my fair share of failure in many arenas of my life, want to help teach her how to fail. Because, as it turns out, failure doesn't have to be the end of a dream, pursuit, or life goal.

But you have to learn how to fail and not let it break you.

Tomorrow--How I Tried and Failed at Becoming Wendy.
Or--When I let Failure Get the Better of Me.


  1. I'm sitting at the computer, waiting for the popover to bake. They smell yummy. And I'm reading a few blogs, while I wait. This was nicely written and I enjoyed your story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Ummm, popovers smell delicious. Thanks for the complement.

  3. They were goood too. Then we hit one more market for a few more goodies. Got Ethel stocked good. So fun. I love buying ingredients.

    How's your writing going?

  4. Failure hurts. That's a unfortunate truth. However, it can also provided incredible growth. I've learned my more important life lessons from the times I've failed (or made mistakes). Perhaps one of the most important lessons is that you pick yourself up and keep going.

    I like Thomas Edison's quote: "You only fail, when you quit trying." He was certainly a man who knew all about failure.

    It's tough getting that through to a little one. She's lucky she has such an astute mama to help her through her failures, when she experiences them.

    Good luck to her!

  5. Why do I always see the typos AFTER I click 'post comment'?

  6. Whisk, the writing has started back up--hence my being up and typing at 4:30am :). It always makes me a little nervous when I finish one thing (like I finished Ascendant in September) and then there is this hang time while I revise that one and begin to stew about the next. At first I know it's fine and then I begin to worry that I haven't written in awhile. But words are now back to accumulating on the page, so I'm feeling better about the current WIP.

  7. Very good to read that you are feeling better and working on a manuscript. I have no doubt it's great and that you will continue to shine.

  8. What an awesome post and a great mom. It is tough to fail, and I can definitely vouch for it making you stronger, if that's the path you choose.