Win or Learn
“You either win, or you learn”
~ Avi Fishoff

This week was back-to-school for some of our kids, and each year brings a slightly different schedule. This affects carpools, buses, our own morning schedules, and multiple other kids’ schedules all interfacing in a beautiful harmonious song (not).

We have to re-evaluate, based on new schedules, when everyone has to wake up, make sure everyone’s alarm clocks are set correctly for AM and not PM (been there) and determine who is taking whom where or seeing whom off on which bus.

First day back to school we were late. Ouch! I shan’t point fingers here, and let’s pretend I don’t point them anywhere, but it wasn’t my fault. We re-calibrated for the second day and I was optimistic. I am often optimistic for no reason whatsoever, but I’ll take it.

Except, bummer. The second day we were even later than the first day. I have various theories on why, but no one seems to be interested so I’ll leave that be. Point is, the child in question miraculously came to his/her own conclusions the moment he/she got into the car to be driven to school. Where, parenthetically, I had been waiting for at least 15 minutes, because I’ve learned that standing in the kitchen hovering and asking “are you ready yet” “what else do you need” “hurry up” and the like are not actually helpful at all and that all it does is start my day with a raging headache.

So I sat in the car instead and read something and practiced my deep breathing which is a very useful skill, and I reminded myself that I am not in control.

But enough about me.

The kid slid into the car and immediately began theorizing about why the schedule didn’t work, acknowledging his/her mistakes and oversights, and strategizing about what could be done differently the next day.

“Anonymous kid,” I said, “that’s amazing. You either win, or you learn.” Kid gave me a quizzical look, so I explained.

“Every time you try to do something, one of two things will happen. Either you’ll get it right, and you’ll win. Or you’ll get it wrong, and you’ll have learned something. You couldn’t have learned that thing without the mistake. And that’s exactly what you’re doing right now. You didn’t win, but you learned.” I smiled in that satisfied way that parents do when they’ve dispensed an particularly wise piece of brilliance.

Kid: “Well, sometimes you don’t win and you don’t learn.” (It is possible that this child has not inherited my beautiful natural optimism.)

Me: “Right – that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

Kid gives sage nod and I drop him/her off, 23 minutes late. Not winning but definitely learning.

Next morning, kid gets to school 7 minutes early. And the next? 7 minutes late. It’s a work in progress, and that’s what life is about.

Because when you win or learn, you always win.