That's me, parent extraordinaire, attempting a deep bonding moment with my pre-teen daughter.
I was just following the advice of Stanford University professor Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
She makes the case that intelligence can be developed through effort and education. We parents can foster this by, among other things, sitting around the dinner table and talking about mistakes and what has been learned from them.
So when last Sunday afternoon found me, my husband and two kids driving to a family dinner, I decided to take advantage of my children being trapped in a fast moving mini van and gave her theory a test.
"So kids, Mom has a question. Tell me about your biggest failures."
I swiveled around to see that they were both listening to their iPods and hadn't heard a word I said.
I motioned for them to remove the ear buds and repeated my request.
My eldest daughter threw me one of those incredulous looks that teenagers do so well and informed me that if I was going to keep asking lame questions like that she was going to stay connected to her iPod for the rest of her life.
Now I love my daughter and I wasn't prepared to give up so easily. Thinking quickly, I tried another tact.
"How about I start. I'll tell you a recent failure of mine."
"This could take a while," quipped my husband.
Reminding him that it was his turn next, I continued.
"Mom has a book club meeting tomorrow night and I'm on page seven of a 900 page book. I think it's safe to assume that I've failed at finishing this book. Now, how should I handle this?"
They began to get interested. Thinking for a moment, my youngest leaned forward and in her most serious voice directed me to, "Lie mommy."
The older and wiser one was more crafty. "Don't say anything unless you're asked. And if they do ask you something, just nod your head and say, 'It didn't resonate with me' They'll never know."
Momentarily distracted by their deceitful yet excellent suggestions, it took me a few minutes to realize that my bonding and life-skill training moment had morphed into a discussion on how best to trick The Happy Bookers. (By the way, if anyone from my book club is reading this, I did finish the book, really, it just didn't resonate with me.)
I was brought back to the present moment by the sound of my family competing with each other to come up with the best tale of Mom's failures.
"Remember the time Mom asked her hairdresser for "a little change" and came home with bright orange hair?"
"Remember the time Mom was going to start a craft business but after three months had only produced three scarves and the sleeve of a sweater?"
As the peels of laughter rang through the car, I said a silent thank you to Dr. Dweck. Her technique didn't work exactly as I had envisioned it but we were, nevertheless having a bonding moment.
Karen is an urbanmoms.ca member, a freelance writer and the publisher of a website for Toronto women 40+ - The Best Kept Secret