Somewhere far, far away from the wrath of Mrs. Fenimore.
Maybe I can pretend to go to the bathroom and run out the back door to my aunt’s house (three blocks away).
Will my mom buy it if I tell her I have a stomachache — again?
I can read and write. Do I really need to go to school anymore?
You see, second grade was a very scary place. Mistakes were not tolerated in Mrs. Fenimore’s class.
Can’t do that math problem? Sit in the corner until figure it out. You’re just not trying hard enough. (I once sat there for the entire morning).
Giggle in class? Come to the front of the room and I’ll humiliate you so that you’ll be the object of laughter.
It was then that the seeds of fear and perfectionism were planted deeply into my impressionable little heart.
These were her comments on my report card mid-way through the year:
Well, no kidding, lady! You’d be paralyzed, too, if someone yanked your ponytail or pinched your arm at the slightest misstep (she did both to unfortunate classmates).
“Mistakes aren’t allowed” is a message that followed me long after I (finally) left second grade. When I became a mother, I began to keep a daily “report card” of my progress. On any given day, it usually looked something like this:
You see, I didn’t think effort or progress counted. If I lost my patience one time, if I fumbled handling a kid dilemma I’d never faced before, if I groaned at the thought of one more game of Candyland, then all was lost. I graded myself on a strictly pass/fail system.
But just like those skills I was trying to master in second grade, mothering was something I had never done before. Each stage brought new challenges that took time — and mistakes — to master.
My kids are 16 and 13 now — and guess what? I didn’t “mess them up” as I had so often feared! I did fail many, many times. I still do. They aren’t perfect either. Love truly does cover a multitude of sins.
Mrs. Fenimore was wrong. Mistakes are allowed. Everyday, I’m grateful that we’re graded on the curve of the Cross.
He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NLT)