When I was pondering the Introduction to my new book, You’re Not the Boss of Me, it occurred to me that all I really needed to write was one sentence: Be the person you want your child to be. Four pages later, that didn’t happen. But I still believe it. Children need to be surrounded by adults who live by and model the character traits and values that matter most if you want them to absorb those values.
Last week a news story rocked the world of major league baseball. Armondo Galarraga of the Detroit Tigers pitched a perfect game…almost. By so doing he would have joined the elite ranks of a very few ball players in the history of the game. It was quite a feat. But he didn’t get credit for it; his accomplishment got derailed by an umpire’s call. Now here is the amazing part of the story. After the game had ended, umpire Jim Joyce stepped out in public to say that the call he had made which destroyed the perfect game, was in fact, wrong. It was a bad call. He had made a mistake. No excuses. Bad call. Wow!
The sports world went wild. It wasn’t fair! Galarraga was robbed! He should have had that perfect game. Everyone had an opinion. Here’s mine: Bravo!
Doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Sometimes it brings disappointment or embarrassment; sometimes it feels bad, hurts someone’s feelings (albeit unintentionally) or cause someone to suffer consequences; sometimes you are villainized. But in the end, you are left with the best feeling of all: You did the right thing. That means you get to awaken with a clear conscience. You can look at yourself in the mirror and stand tall. With all that you risk in making the tough call—doing the right thing—the greatest reward is your positive, authentic sense of yourself.
Our world is chock full of glaring examples of people who have not made the right choice. From Bernie Madoff to Lindsay Lohan, sports heroes to politicians, coaches to clergymen, friends to family members. They are everywhere, and our children hear about them.
But how often to we and our children hear about someone who has done the right thing? How often do people step up and admit their mistakes, without any excuses? Not often enough. How can we expect our children to step up when the models in their lives do not?
Making a mistake is how children learn not to make that mistake. Being able to own that mistake is an important part of the process, part of the learning and the growing.
You may be furious at Jim Joyce for raining on Armando Galarraga’s parade. He didn’t get his perfect game. But he is my hero. Tell your kids about it.