Laughing at My Mistakes

Photo by sxc.hu user stay4while

Want to know a reason why you should subscribe to my blog via e-mail?  Because then you’ll get to see my mistakes and have a record of them… whereas, by the time you read my posts on blogspot, I’ve probably already had a chance to edit them, and you’ll never know I made the mistakes in the first place!

For instance, in my previous post (“Freedom from Devotions“), I encouraged my readers to assess their reactions to what they had just read.  There was one problem: I left off an important “s” at the end of “assess.”  Get it?  I had read through the post myself several times, and had a few others read it before I posted it… but none of us noticed the unfortunate omission.  My sister called me the morning after I posted it and tactfully pointed out the error.  Once I understood what she was saying, I burst out laughing.  (You have to admit, it’s pretty funny!)


Suffice it to say, I was surprised by my reaction. Usually, my tendency is to be pretty hard on myself when I mess up.  I’m also easily made uncomfortable by language or situations that could be deemed inappropriate.  So, I was glad that my reaction in this particular situation was not to get upset with myself, not even to take seriously what I’d accidentally typed and published, but to simply enjoy a genuinely funny error that hadn’t caused any harm.

I purposefully titled this post, “Laughing at My Mistakes.”  Although I want it to encourage you to laugh at your mistakes and to not take yourself too seriously, I thought I’d first give you the opportunity to laugh at some of mine.  Here goes!

First of all, remember those Scholastic Book Orders from elementary school?  You know, those newspapery-thin packets whose products, once ordered, seemed to appear as magically as the catalog had on your desk?  Well, Scholastic is still very much around.  Although parents can now order online, some still prefer to send in a check.  Which means the teacher has to mail the checks.  You would think that, Scholastic being around for so many years and having sent and received so much mail, the blue adhesive on their provided envelopes would be sufficient.  Apparently, it isn’t.  And so, a month into my first year of teaching, I was mortified when one of my students brought in a letter from the post office explaining their check had been found loose in the mail.  Throughout the next few days, other students’ parents received similar letters. I didn’t get my own check back until the next time I visited my parents, since, of course, my checks had yet to be updated to my new address.

By the way, one of the many times I called Scholastic to resolve the issue, I must have missed a digit in the phone number.  When a strange message started to play on the other end, I hurriedly hung up.  The 800 number I reached was most definitely NOT Scholastic.  It was also not a number I would ever dial on purpose, especially from a school phone!

Speaking of phone calls… as part of a unit on health and safety, I teach my students when and how to call 911 for emergencies.  I make a point of modeling the procedure for them on a cell phone and on a landline telephone (believe it or not, many children have never had a reason to learn how to dial a landline phone).  I always make sure the phones I use are turned off or disconnected, of course.  (Can you see where this is going?)  One year, I was hesitant to disconnect the phone in my room, unsure how it would affect the new phone system.  So, I held one finger on the button thingy to keep the phone from calling, and pressed the numbers as I explained to my students what I was doing.  Then, I hung up the phone.  I was confused for a moment by the display flashing something about dialing, but thought it couldn’t have possibly sent the call out.  In less than a minute, however, the phone rang, and I was sheepishly explaining myself to a 911 dispatcher… while all of my students watched.  Oh, and one of my coworkers burst into the room and asked if everything was ok.  Apparently, once a call is made to 911, the new system automatically notified several people throughout the building.

Sure, not all mistakes are so laughable.  Sometimes we make sobering mistakes that hurt ourselves and others, with consequences that range from inconvenience to serious pain.  All the more reason for us to lighten up about the errors we make that have relatively little impact.  Relatively little impact, that is, other than to remind us we’re not even remotely perfect.  We all need that reminder now and then!

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My Thoughts on Antoinette Tuff's Compassionate Actions (Sojourners)
Freedom From Devotions

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