Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Real Life Fender Benders...

While running errands today, a song came on the radio that has a catchy little tune and quirky words that strike home with women. I started humming along the first time I heard it and now my daughter enjoys singing along as well. Its fun, relatable message goes something like this… “Got couple dents in my fender – got a couple rips in my jeans – trying to put the pieces together, but perfection is my enemy”. This song, “Free to Be Me” is sung by a girl named Francesca Battistelli.

I had to chuckle to myself today because my 16 year old put a dent in my husbands sedan earlier this month. She was driving with her father, and while parking at the mall, she happened to hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. The car popped up over the curb and knocked over the small ‘temporary parking’ sign on a metal post in front of her. My daughter and my husband each were startled but the moment of fear caused opposite reactions to the minor event - One being silence with a frozen look on her face, the other a verbal outburst.

Some time has passed and we now giggle when we see the sign, which has once again tilted toward the ground because of the unfortunate incident. When retelling the story, friends have asked how we can now make light of this incident…typically from mom’s who have children close to the age of 16.

Here’s what I learned that can help you:

1) Find a Practical Perspective
When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about.” (Albert Einstein) In the overall scheme of things, this was a minor accident, but a good teaching moment. Truthfully, it gave both parties involved, a chance to learn and grow. One received education on what to do when denting dad’s car, the other was reminded not to sweat the small stuff because it’s all small stuff.
2) Have a Reasonable Expectation
In the middle of every difficulty, lies opportunity.” (Albert Einstein) Expecting that our new driver will go through the learning curve perfectly is unrealistic. Understanding and accepting this while going through this trying time for both parent and child, allows us the freedom to become flexible. When there is room to breath, an opportunity exists for discovery, independence, wisdom and certainty to grow.
3) Say a Sensible Word
Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe) Will there be more fender benders? Probably. Will there be more good driving experiences than bad? Yes. It seems that from all my past ‘dents’ and ‘rips’, it is better to encourage someone to pick themselves up one more time and try again, rather than let them know all that they have done wrong.

No one ever said life is easy. Many of us have to experience things a couple of times before realizing the lesson. When we keep our perspectives and expectations in check, while speaking encouragement, we are free to laugh and sing while we put the pieces together from our real life ‘rips’ and ‘dents’.

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