This week in girls: drama.

News?  Not really.  Status Quo?  You got it.

This, though, has been a particularly rocky week. The high came Sunday when all three girls were part of a youth ensemble that offered the Sunday Worship. We were all really proud of all of them.  The moment that I cherish most is watching my 16 year old–the group elder and the one who holds “kindness” as a learning edge–treat the two boys in the group with a tenderness that gave me confidence that this child will, someday, be the woman she wants to be.

The boys are also teens. This is their first year at our church and I wasn’t sure they would want to participate. They are brothers who are home-schooled and who identify as having Ausberger’s.  The older one wrote a homily; the younger one led the lighting and the extinguishing of the chalice.  Both stumbled a bit as any lay leader who leads a service will.  And my eldest daughter was there to help and guide when they did, and in such a loving way that they felt cared for and not embarrassed. I was moved to tears then even moreso then than when she and her sister read their beautiful and heartfelt homilies.

Even better that day (and I say this to anyone who has had to endure the following): we went shorts- and swimsuit-shopping later that day and there was narry a quarrel. A few times I had to remind them what the budget was and asked them to make choices based on that, but there weren’t any scenes and we ended the very hot afternoon with ice cream and a nap (well, the nap was for me).

And then the week started.  Soon I’ll be hearing how the auditions for Drum Major went.  Both eldest and middlest tried out yesterday.  One is sure she didn’t get it. But they both have this great attitude about it: I tried my best and if I don’t get it, oh well.  I never in a gazillion years would have pegged one of my daughters as a drum major–but neither would I have guessed that one of them would really LIKE playing the tuba.  That’s the joy of having kids with free will.   You find out what they like and let the mystery unfold.

The drop in the week came when eldest daughter’s first real research paper of high school came back with a grade that took the wind out of all of our sails.  I read it. I won’t argue it was an A paper, but I certainly didn’t expect the fail.  This is one of those times in parent’s life when you can make the choice to let your daughter learn something or you can make her learn all the wrong things. She had been preparing us for the worst, saying that the teacher was failing a lot of people, that she was unreasonable, that many parents were refusing to sign the papers.  She wanted me to be very upset.  And I was, just not in the direction she wanted me to be.  When I got home, I looked it over, read the teacher’s comments and asked my daughter what she thought.  She, too, had reread the comments and began to understand that her “stuff” did stink, afterall.  She agreed to go in and talk to the teacher herself.

What I told my daughter is that I’m glad she had this experience now. I shared my experience with my first English paper in college. After all As in high school, my first paper back was, if I recall, a C-.  It might as well have been an F.  But I went to the TA and I learned what I was doing wrong.  This will surprise: but I was lazy in a lot of things.  I learned not to be.

I kept that paper handy when I wrote others and I learned from it.  A lot.

The only thing I would complain about is that they no longer allow students to keep their own marked-up papers because they are afraid they will sell them or something.  Anyone want to buy an F?  Really?  I learned so much from what was written on all my papers–the teachers couldn’t physically be with me when I was writing at 10:00 at night, but their comments in the margins of earlier papers were a reminder of my laziness and areas I needed to attend to.  Like not ending a sentence with a preposition … er somethin.

She’s ending the 9 week grading period with a C+. Not great. But could be worse.  But I’m pretty sure this is a one-time thing. And I’m pretty sure I taught her more this week than some of her friend’s parents taught them. Sometimes you really need to fail, and learn it isn’t the end of the world, but the beginning of the next lesson.

When I look over this particular week in girl-land, I will tell you this: I’m more proud of the young woman in the pulpit on Sunday than I am upset at the tenth grader with a bad grade. I’m even more proud of the girl who sucked it up and owned her own failure. Good grades say a lot about a kid; but this week, I think how she responded to our two young men and her failed grade believe that response said even more about her than I ever could.  And I’m a very proud mama.


About TinaLBPorter

I write poetry and blog at And I'm thrilled to be writing with you.
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One Response to Failure

  1. mskitty says:

    I love UU kids. They are the best. You are one lucky UU Momma!


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