Me: (walking to the dinner table) Um… What happened to this straw cup?
Hank: (hanging his head)
Me: It’s been chewed beyond repair.
Hank: (pushing his food around his plate)
Me: And since these are trendy, hipster, mason jar straw cups I don’t think we can get new straws and I wanted them to last.
Me: Well that’s €3 down the drain.
Me: (pause) Are you doing what we talked about Hank?
Hank: (silent, not looking up)
Pai: What did you talk about?
Molly: (wondering what is going on, looking from person to person)
Me: Hank and I had a long chat about mistakes. How mistakes are a part of life, everyone makes them and you can deal with mistakes in two ways: negatively and positively.
Pai: Yup and Hank tends to deal with mistakes negatively.
Hank: (tumbling an olive around his plate, listening)
Me: Hank used to let the smallest mistake cripple him. He used to punish himself. We talked about how that is a very destructive habit because as he grows his mistakes will have bigger consequences and if he continues with these negative reactions how will he cope? He needs to learn from his mistakes and not crumble to pieces. Right now, he is so focused on failure that he misses the lesson and I can’t let him continue to punish himself. I love him. It hurts me to see him hurt.
Pai: I agree.
Me: So we talked about instead of falling into tears and anger he needed to take a minute and say to himself, out loud if he needed, “I have made a mistake and I am mad, but everyone makes mistakes and that is okay,” until he is calm enough to see clearly how to learn from the situation and move forward.
Pai: Good advice. There is no way to live a proper life and not make mistakes. I make a 1,000 mistakes a day.
Me: I make double that.
Me: Hank, just like you don’t want me to say, “I am a terrible mother,” sarcastically when I make a parenting mistake I don’t want you to crumble over chewing up a straw.
Hank: (looking up, no tears, calm) Mama, it works. I feel bad that I ruined the straw cup, but I don’t feel as bad as when I did before.
Me: (high five Hank) That’s my boy!
Pai: (inspecting hipster mason jar straw cup damage) I am pretty sure if I cut off this bit of the straw can be saved. Or we can ditch this lid and you can plant a small cactus in it like a crafty hipster should.
Me: Ohhh, reason to go to the garden center!
Hank: Can I help you try and fix it first, papa? Then if we can’t fix it I want to buy mama the cactus to make up for my mistake. It will help me feel better.
Pai: Sounds like a plan.
Me: (beaming) Your heart is something special, Hank. Thank you for listening and taking my advice.
Hank: (chewing, NOT CRYING, smiling)
Molly: (spraying a mouthful of soup all over me)
Molly: (laughing and clapping)
Hank: Molly! (laughing)
Pai: Amália, não faça isso (don’t do that). (trying not to laugh)