Oct 21, 2007

Taking Risks

I thought it would be fun to do a sudoku puzzle with Gavin the other day. We sat down at the table and I began to show him the 'secrets' and 'skill' involved in being able to successfully complete an easy, mini, sudoku puzzle. I, myself, am still in the early stages of learning how to do these without throwing my pencil down in frustration. It's such an exhilarating feeling to complete a puzzle and actually get it all right. It makes me want to do it again and again. Honestly, they're rather addicting. Thus was my reasoning to introducing my young son to this clever form of entertainment (and math).

I walk and talk him through my puzzle. He totally gets it and is antsy for his turn to start. Finally, his turn arrives. He sits there and just stares at it. I wonder where all the excitement went. He tells me, "Mom, what if I mess up. I don't know exactly where all the numbers go." Duh! "That's the whole point" I tell him. I explain that this is a great way to learn how to problem solve and trouble shoot. I give a fantastic speech, highlighting all the brain benefits that this genius game has to offer my son. Yet, it doesn't seem as if I've convinced him. He replies to my over excitement with, "Ya, Mom, but I'm not much of a risk taker."

WHAT?!? Is this my superhero son talking to me? The one who walks on top of the monkey bars. Who climbs tree limbs too narrow and tall for us normal human beings. Who tries new foods or ways of doing things even if he's not sure he'll like them. Who picks up any bug he sees. Do you even know yourself Gavin? Not a risk taker...whatever.

Instead of voicing my true thoughts and feelings above, I give him the 'mommy' version, "Honey, if you don't feel you're much of a risk taker, then this is the perfect place to start. You can take a 'risk' by writing down the wrong number and then use this new fangled device called the eraser to eliminate any trace of your wrong choice. That's the best risk I've found yet." In other words, it's not that he's not a risk taker, it's that he doesn't like to be wrong. Big difference. But I have another mommy solution up my sleeve for that one too, "Honey, I WANT you to make mistakes and mess up, that's how you learn. How much better to make your mistakes around mommy where I can be there to help you and guide you on how to do it." I think that was the real lesson of sudoku.

Needless to say, he's hooked and taking quite alot of risk with his little eraser close to his side.
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2 comments:

Katrina said...

What a great lesson (and one that even grown-ups like me need to learn sometimes!) This sounds just like my daughter, who tends to get discouraged if she tries something new and isn't good at it right away! We're trying to teach her that some very good things are only achievable through hard work and practice.

Jennifer said...

You know, I've considered picking up one of those little books and giving it a try, but if I don't do well at it, I'll hate myself and feel like a failure. So in order to NOT feel like a failure, I haven't bothered to try. Thanks for the little pep talk :) I'll be sure to get a new eraser for just in case...can I call you if I need help?!? I think I'll pick up a booklet tomorrow for the doctor's office!!!

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