Youngsters teaching us failure is ok

Standing at the sidelines of Mr Six’s hockey game, hoping the seriously grey clouds threatening would remain at bay, I thought about the meme doing the rounds on Facebook: “Please remember: 1. These are kids, 2. This is a game, 3. The coaches are volunteers, 4. The referees are human, 5. This is not the world cup.”

It was great to see so many parents, grandparents, aunties and siblings supporting on Wednesday.  While my son has a strong competitive streak, it looked like he was enjoying the skills practice with the opposition as much as he enjoyed the game!

Hockey is my son’s fourth sport he’s tried – it follows on from soccer, ballet and basketball, in that order.  He’s always wanted to play rugby, but luckily (for me) this hasn’t yet eventuated.  As a parent who wants to support my children’s choices (within reason), I don’t know how I’m going to cross that bridge, but the stats on concussions are not cool when combined with a growing brain.

After hockey he was disappointed that his team didn’t win, but mainly he was happy I could be there to watch him play.  He kept waving at me during the game, which seemed very sweet – I realised later he was checking whether I was paying him enough attention!

I had run into another Whanganui mum, there watching her son, so was enjoying our conversation.  She shared a lovely story about her boys.  They, like my two, were asking her to again abitrate who was best at something.  She responded by saying she didn’t want to choose between her two children but instead of leaving it there, the boys explained that they were ok with someone coming second – they wanted to practice saying congratulations to the winner.  Wow – what maturity in youngsters!  Better than some (most?) adults.

Being ok with failure isn’t easy for many of us at any age.  This quote from American author Denis Waitley is a good reminder: “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” 

This is a great message about failure just being experience in disguise.  I don’t particularly enjoy my son being frustrated his team didn’t win and that he didn’t get any goals, but it’s a part of life.

I caught up this week with a friend who’s going through a run of back luck.  She was feeling down about the latest set back, but we talked about how unexpected change is not the problem – it’s quite common – it’s how we react to it.  As Chumbawamba sung in their 1997 one-hit-wonder: “I get knocked down, but I get up again.  You're never gonna keep me down.”

Can I clumsily segue from failure into commenting on this week’s Budget?  Looks like I already have!

It’s too hard to comment in-depth on the Budget.  Trying to understand the twists and turns that Ministerial news releases take compared to year on year funding trends is nigh on impossible – I should know, having helped write such things when I worked in Wellington back in the day.

Let’s just say my view is to take any funding increases with a grain of salt and wait for analysis by watchdogs that put the necessary time into careful dissection.

But I can say I’m concerned about initial comments that the Department of Conservation has been cut by nearly $40 million or 9% of its funding, with the majority of that coming from their work with nature.  That does not seem like a winning formula for New Zealand.