There I was sitting criss cross applesauce on the floor of my Lowe’s Home Improvement store with my son. I realized I had just messed up the wood working project we embarked on 20 minutes earlier. Around us were kids hammering away on their projects when our project came to a quiet stop. I had made a mistake that could not be undone and I knew my son was going to be upset.
Over the summer my son and I got involved with the Lowe’s Build and Grow program. This program teaches kids how to work with tools and develop new skills by completing small woodworking projects. This summer Lowe’s had the Avengers. My son and I were hooked on building them all.
My three year old son caught on quickly. He could help me sort the nails and follow the steps. His confidence and abilities seemed to double each time we built a new project at the store. He (mostly) stayed focused and knew where we were in the project at all times. His new abilities were impressive.
So there we were building the last Avenger, Hulk. My son and I had mastered these projects because we had built five previously. We were the pros now. My son could wield a hammer nearly as good as Thor. (Okay, maybe not. But he was very accurate for a preschooler.) We followed the steps just like we always did when I realized that I had prematurely used up two nail holes that were needed to attach Hulk’s head to his already built body. My son had yet to realize the error. It was a sucker punch to the gut. I had messed up our last superhero project and it could not be undone.
I gathered my thoughts quickly and explained to him what I had done wrong. I told him I could fix it at home, but we’d have to leave without finishing Hulk. My son looked back at me with a confused expression. He glanced down at the incomplete hero and back up at me. I expected him to get angry, whine and at worst case cry.
“That’s okay daddy,” he spoke. “It was just an accident.”
I quickly flashed to dozens of memories of my son having accidents and how I reacted. Sometimes I was understanding, but I will admit there were times I was upset with him. If he spilled milk all over the table, I wasn’t pleased about having to clean it up. Maybe I rolled my eyes and sighed too loudly. But I felt like the mercy and forgiveness my son was now showing me was beyond what I deserved. It was one of those moments when you realize you parenting was working despite your mistakes.
In an instant when my son had every right to be mad at me for making a mistake I could not take back, he forgave me. Just like that. I was so proud of him. Honestly I was beyond proud of him. As we went home and fixed the Hulk, he was great. He explained to my wife that we had to finish Hulk at home because I made a mistake – and that it was okay.
All of the Avengers we built at Lowe’s are proudly on display in our home. When I pass by the Hulk, I think of the forgiveness that was afforded me by my son. It is ironic that the Hulk is a symbol of being slow to anger. Making mistakes is a part of learning for children and we as parents need to remember that. (Over and over and over again.) We want our kids to be forgiving as adults. Parents need to lead by example and praise our kids when they show us forgiveness.
We never know when our kids are going to teach us.
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