As a mom I’ve been wrong. I proved it.
A few years back my younger son was studying the space program. I told him that an Apollo 13 astronaut radioed to NASA headquarters on earth, “Houston, we have a problem.” My son disagreed. He was sure the astronaut had said something else.
Certain that I was correct, I offered to look it up. You know, to reveal the truth, my truth. I just knew I was right. I’d heard the line so many times.
After my research was completed, I called my son over and told him that it had taken me a while to find the original NASA transcripts online. I wasn’t going to trust this to Wikipedia. I had a point to prove and needed reliable documentation, not IMDB.
From the NASA site, we listened to the original transmission, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Then I showed him the second source, on a .gov site, that had the printed transcript, ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem.’ Clearly it was in the past tense! In fact, past perfect.
The reality was that I was wrong, and I acknowledged it to him. I told him that prior to learning the truth, I would have bet all the cash in my purse on what I believed to be true! I watched him watching me as I thanked him, gratefully because I learned something that I never would have questioned. It was a relief.
It ended up being a big moment as something happened I hadn’t foreseen.
Now at our house, whenever uncertainty arises, skepticism and curiosity follow. My sons run to find a charged device to search for primary sources to distinguish fact from opinion or popularity. They have fact checked farmed raised salmon, cell provider charges, and now that, Parker, my older son will be voting next fall, he’s identifying what’s true and not in the political world.
I can tell you that they think much more critically than before the ‘night of truth,’ as we call my Apollo 13 awakening. I like that it sparked them to be bold and relentless in their quest for truth.
Mary, a bubbly eighth grader, waited for her ride as I was leaving our middle school. She was excited, telling me her soccer team would be competing in the regional championships this weekend. They’d never won a big tournament, but she felt they had a solid chance. I wished her luck and told her I’d love to hear how it goes.
Mary and her mom caught up with me walking into school Monday morning.
“Hey, Mary, how’d it go?”
“It was the best!” Mary said, jumping up and down, wrapped in joy and a huge grin.
Then her mom said, “They were tied with a few minutes left. Mary scored. I was so proud of her! All the parents were up and out of their chairs clapping and yelling. We won the game and the tournament. It was my Mary who made it happened. I’m the happiest and proudest mom in town.”
But, it wasn’t her mom’s story. It is Mary’s story. And, it’s Mary’s story to tell.
If Mary had told her story it would have sounded something like this:
“We made it to the finals! We were playing a tough team. We were tied with a couple minutes left. The coach called time out and laid out the plan.
Kyra, our captain shouted to us, ‘This is our chance! We’re taking it! We’re here to win.’ For a second, I pictured us singing “We are the Champions!”
The dribbler on the other team left too much space between the ball and her feet. Lyla, the quickest girl on our team, stole it and kick it to me. I took it downfield.
The defender on my right tried to force me into the corner. I stopped, even with the goal posts, with my foot on the ball, and she kept going. I turned, dribbling at an angle. The defender on my left wanted it bad. The goalie was set. I turned, kicked the ball high away from the goalie and scored! We won!!!”
When Mary shares her story, she re-plays her team’s effort, her strategy and her emotions. The value of her voicing her story is multi-beneficial: ownership and pride in her successful maneuvers to score, sense of self in her abilities and belonging, and confidence speaking to adults.
Want to help your child be more confident and surer? Let them tell their stories, the doctor about their symptoms, the leader or coach about a concern, and you about everything.
Warm regards and appreciation for all you do,