It was Saturday and I was at home with my son while husBenKoh brought Phoebie, my daughter, for her dance. Normally, this would be the one hour I have alone with my son before we carried on the rest of the day a a family. Barely 10 minutes into my daughter’s dance lesson, husBenKoh sent me a photo.
When I saw this photo, I thought that Phoebie had made a mistake in her dance moves and was upset with herself. It had happened before and her dance teacher talked to me about it.
As husBenKoh continued with his texts to me, it turned out that my assumption was wrong. Instead, this was what had happened:
As husBenKoh and Phoebie were leaving our home and making their way downstairs, the lift had stopped at one level and there was a lady there. The lift was going down but the lady wanted to go up. As the lift doors were closing, Phoebie blurted out, “Silly Aunty”. HusBenKoh knew the lady must have heard Phoebie and told her that it was not a nice thing to say.
Phoebie’s mood went downhill from there, and as they walked to the dance studio, she was stamping her feet. HusBenKoh asked Phoebie what was wrong, and she said that she was upset with herself for having made that mistake in the lift. HusBenKoh explained to Phoebie that we all say the wrong thing sometimes, but we just have to learn from our mistakes. However, this self-reprimandation carried on as she entered the dance studio and she eventually broke down.
HusBenKoh took a video of Phoebie crying during the dance class and sent it to me.
I immediately realised that Phoebie, the sensitive girl who has certain expectations for herself, probably felt lousy that she had made a mistake yet again and was both disappointed with herself and worried that she would make mistakes again.
I replied husBenKoh’s texts and told him that he would have to speak to her, including examples of how he made similar mistakes himself and learnt from them.
Later, when Phoebie got home from dance class, I decided to sit her down and talk to her.
“Phoebie,” I started, “I heard from Papa that something happened just now. Can you tell me what happened?”
“We were going downstairs and then… … …” Phoebie started to mumble, avoiding eye contact with me. I guessed that she thought I might scold her for what happened.
“I cannot hear what you are saying,” I told Phoebie, “Can you look at me and tell me what happened?”
“Well, we were going downstairs and the lift door opened and there was an Aunty standing there. We were going down but the Aunty was going up. When the door was closing, I said ‘Silly Aunty’ and Papa scolded me for saying that. Then I was sad that I made a mistake,” she explained.
“Phoebie,” I said, “You know something? We all say the wrong things sometimes. I have done it before and Papa has too. But the important is that we learn from it and move on.”
“I’m actually happy that you got upset with yourself, because it means that you know what you did was probably not nice and you knew you made a mistake. It is better than you not knowing that you made a mistake. But you know, after you know your mistake, it is important that you learn and move on,” I explained.
“When you realised that you made a mistake, time continued to pass and you still had to go for dance class, right?” I asked.
“Did time stop just because you made a mistake?” I asked again.
Phoebie shook her head.
“Yes. So you see, even though you made a mistake, time will carry on and we will still have to carry on and do other things. You just have to remember what your mistake was and pray that you don’t do it again,” I said.
“Even Mama makes mistakes too. Sometimes I scold you and realise that I said hurtful things to you while I was angry, but do I stop being your Mama?” I tried to explain further.
Phoebie shook her head.
“That’s right, I don’t. I can only pray for wisdom and continue to be your Mama, because time doesn’t stop. You know when we pray together every morning, how I would pray that I will be a better Mama? That’s what I ask God to teach me to do, because I know I have to carry on even though I make mistakes sometimes,” I said.
“So what have you learnt from this?” I asked Phoebie.
“That it is not nice to say some things,” she said.
“What else?” I asked again.
“That time doesn’t stop because we make mistakes, so we learn and then move on. And we pray that we don’t do the mistakes again,” she said.
We ended the talk with a hug and she carried on with the rest of Saturday.
When husBenKoh came into the room, I told him what Phoebie and I talked about. He said that on the way home from dance class, he too shared a personal experience with Phoebie about how he said something, realised it was a mistake and learnt from it. He said that he shared with Phoebie how, when he and I were still dating, he said something that made me so angry that I ignored him for one week. (What an example to use -_-“) HusBenKoh explained to Phoebie that after he made that mistake, he knew that there are some things that he may think is funny, but I don’t.
Speaking to Phoebie about this kind of helped me with my own reflection too. We all make mistakes, but the important thing is to learn from it and move on. Time doesn’t stop because of our mistakes, so we just have to learn, move on and try to be better.