When Is Failure An Option-2011 Edition

The next time I get stabbed I hope that my assailant chooses a better blade. Something a little bit sharper than a rusty butter knife would be nice. I am sure that sounds ridiculous to you, but I’d rather have it just slide in than to be battered repeatedly with an object that can’t quite pierce my skin. Sure, there is the ego boost that comes from being able to say that your shoulder blade is semi invulnerable.

What is up with that. Dad is supposed to be a real superhero. Bullets are supposed to bounce off of his chest. Some people would say that a father who can’t do that is a failure. And if you believe what you hear and or read, ‘failure is not an option.’ It makes for a good slogan. I can think of  all sorts of ways to market it. T-shirts, buttons, television, movies and more. Or alternatively we could turn it upside down and make it a slogan for Jersey Shore.

But that is not what this post is about and I really shouldn’t have mentioned that show because I feel like I just lost 18 IQ points by mentioning it. Kind of reminds me of Lewis Black’s bit about the horse and college. It is worth listening to, don’t go now because you won’t come back and then I’ll have failed as a blogger and my over indulged ego will be crushed.

Way back during the dawn of time I wrote about failure and my responsibility to my children. I don’t want them to fail but then again I don’t want them to fear it either. Because there are two things that I can guarantee in life- we all will fail at something and when you do you are going to need to know how to pick yourself up. It is a recurring theme for me. In large part it is because of what I hear and see around me. I listen to some other parents at school speak of anything less than an ‘A’ as being no better than an ‘F’ and I roll my eyes.

I want these children of mine to do well in school. I want them to earn the best grades that they can, but not at the cost of their self esteem. Their grades will not the final arbiter of success in life. They won’t be the reason that they are happy and fulfilled either.

And I know these things because dear old dad has been there. The semi invulnerable superhero has enjoyed much success and been fed the stale and not quite as tasty failure cake. That sucker never goes down easily, not with coffee, Scotch or the smoothest Bourbon. However I have learned over time how to take these moments and turn them into something that I can build upon and that is what I want for the children.

Life is filled with wonder and magic but it also comes with haunted forests and scary flying monkeys. And the problem with being a semi invulnerable superhero is that I can’t always be there to fight off the monsters of the night. So I have to teach them how to do that for themselves. Or alternatively find a better super suit to wear. Ya know, something that gives me a little bit more super speed and super strength. Not to mention a better superhero sanctuary. It doesn’t have to be a Fortress of Solitude, I’d be happy with a Fortress of Mostly Quiet.

I wonder if they sell those on Craigslist. Hang on a moment and I’ll go check.

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  1. beta dad January 28, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I agree. Failure is an important part of growing up. I myself am a master of failure, and will be an excellent guide for my kids.

    I have to congratulate you on one of the best opening lines I’ve seen in a blog post in quite some time! I might have to rip it off. “The next time I get shot…”

    • Jack January 29, 2011 at 12:13 am


      It is one hell of a ride this parenting thing. Feel free to use that line, just remember to make sure to contact me people so that i can collect the appropriate royalties. 😉

  2. ChopperPapa January 28, 2011 at 7:51 am

    As parents, we should look at our children’s failures as a step towards success. Show me a kid who has never failed and I will show you one who is spoiled to the point of nausea. I want my kids to fail, as much as I want them to succeed. They need it. Life isn’t fair or easy. THe quicker they understand that the more balanced they will become.

    • Jack January 28, 2011 at 11:36 am

      We’re in agreement here. I don’t see the value in protecting them from something that will happen. I don’t want to destroy their self esteem either, but you have to teach them how to fly without you at some point.

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