On Failing Well

You know what kids know how to do? What almost every adult I know has forgotten?

How to have fun failing.

My kid was trying to climb up the slide today--and a couple of days ago, and a few days before that, this is not a new phenomenon--and you know how slides are, they're designed for sliding down, not climbing up. It takes more coordination and planning to climb a slide than a young toddler necessarily has. So the kid requires some adult assistance in the form of a boost to the butt.

Sometimes, the kid says, "By myself!" So we let go, and the kid sorta flops down and slips down to the bottom of the slide like a very giggly fish.

That's the thing. When you're not even two yet, failing is hilarious.

The kid fails to climb the slide, nearly faceplants into a ramp made of plasticburn waiting to happen, and breaks into peals of laughter.

If I trip in the parking lot, I'm mortified.

How do I get to where my kid is? (And how do I teach my kid to keep that perspective?)

Growing up, I went to a lot of folk dances. You get taught the dance without music, then you do the dance with music, with a lot of other people who also might not have any idea what they're doing. It was great. I've never had more fun tripping over people.

Why can't I apply that to all areas of my life?

Some of it is because the consequences for failure are so much graver for some things than they were when I was little. More depends on success. Failing isn't just embarrassing, sometimes it's downright dangerous.

So I guess we develop a blanket shame reaction? I don't know, it seems counterproductive to me.

Last night I was playing "Zelda: Breath of the Wild"* for the first time, and got to a bit where I had to descend a tower, from platform to platform. There were ladders in place for me to do so.

"Screw that," I said, "I'm a rebel! You can't tell me what to do!" I started jumping from platform to platform. "You can't hold a reckless soul back! I do what I want!"

And then I fell, and very nearly died.

You know what?

It was hilarious.

*AP says video game titles should be enclosed in quotes. That looks very strange to me.