“What did you fail at today?”
I ask my daughter this a lot.
I myself have multiple failures most days. I am particularly prone to forgetting things that seem minor until some crucial moment, like how many carbohydrates in the biscuit I just ate (for insulin purposes); or that my current work-place requires me to manually write any drug I use in a book for reordering; or to sign in when I arrive (£100 parking ticket for that one – ouch!) or how to spell my daughter’s spellings when I get home. I still occasionally snap at my children when what they really need is a hug. This morning I even got sucked into an argument with my five-year-old about the feelings of a teddy:
‘Muuuuummyyyyy! We forgot Bruce!’
‘Bruce is fine, love. I looked in on him and he was fast asleep. He’s had a very busy few days-‘
‘No Mummy! He’s not sleepy at all!’
‘He really was, love. He had his eyes closed and everything.’
I raised my voice slightly.
‘Yes he was!’
‘No he wasn’t! He slept last night, when I slept!’
‘Well bears must need more sleep than girls, because he was honestly fast asleep.’ (in a ‘case-closed’ sort of voice).
‘I told you, he had his eyes closed.’
Becky, my friend, decided to step in. ‘It doesn’t matter, does it? He’s at home at the moment and there’s nothing we can do about it.’
My five-year-old and I probably both gave her the same glare then, but nothing fazes Becky. She teaches teenagers.
The point, anyway, is that no-one’s perfect, especially not me. Toddler (5) needs to learn to accept and even laugh about her mistakes, to believe that she’s still a decent person and focus on what she can do better next time. I don’t want her failures to trigger feelings of shame, or the blaming of other people. I hope that talking about mine for five minutes every night might somehow help both of us.
Anyway, there’s something big that I’ve failed at this year: writing my blog. I sincerely hope that you’ve missed it. I’ve been writing another novel, you see (having figured out where my last one failed) and it’s taking up a lot of time.
With the blog, come more failures. Why would you keep a new years’ resolution about only eating when you’re hungry, if you don’t get to blog about it? I failed to do exercise most days, because there’s often time for novel-writing or exercise but not both. I failed to train properly for a repeat run of the 9-edges, although I trained better this time than previously. I even got so fit that I could run so fast that my legs ached, which has never happened to me before. Then I forgot to get a delivery of cannulas organised for August, ended up reusing old cannulas on holiday and gave myself a cannula abscess just before race-day. Upshot: I failed to run.
I entered the Wirksworth Undulator, though. Andy ran it too and we had a conversation at the start about how it doesn’t pay to start too fast. I failed to listen carefully enough: I was struggling after the first hill. I was three minutes slower than two years ago (when I almost caught Mick Fowler) and Fowler was three minutes faster. Damn.
I got a place on the Percy Pud however, and proclaimed it to be ‘Run-vember’ with the idea of training every day (growing a mustache is so old-hat). I kept this up for the first week, before the temperature dropped.
‘Why did you fail to go running, Mummy?’
‘Because I could go running in the dark, or I could be at home snuggled up reading with you, which is a far nicer option.’
Anyway, with a few days to go I mailed my friend to discuss whether to run together. I run (very slightly) faster than her, but hadn’t trained. Had I trained, it would have been a no-brainer: I’d have run on my own. Having not trained, the choice was between doing my best (and risking being even slower than I thought I was – mortifying if my friend showed up and beat me) or running round slowly with rare and fabulous company.
‘No!’ Hubby said, when I explained my dilemma. ‘You’ve been saying for ages that you need to know how fast you are. You have to try.’
My hubby was right: I went for the riskier, selfish option.
Apart from the company (last year I ran with the fabulous Bea Marshall, whose jolliness and camaraderie I missed) 2016 was even better. It was sunny, the brass band were playing, the atmosphere was buzzing and there were guys dressed up as a beer-bottle and a Christmas tree and a team pushing a guy in a wheelchair, all moving admirably fast. The guy at the front won by miles, smashing the current record with a sub-thirty time. The fastest woman broke a course record, too. And at the end, a food-bank pitched up, so those of us who had failed to eat last-year’s Christmas-puddings could donate this year’s to a better fate.
I went home, all excited, and tried to spot my time on the results list: it wasn’t there. I searched by number, which came up with someone else’s name. Then someone online told me to check that I wasn’t looking at the wrong year’s results – DOH! I looked up 2016s results. It wasn’t there, either. I knew I’d been between 52 and 53 minutes, (enough to justify running alone; not outstandingly good).
I went back to the Strider’s website to pinpoint where I’d gone wrong.
‘Did you wear that electric tag thing that goes around your ankle?’
Bugger. ‘Yes I did, but I wore it round my wrist….’
Reading the instructions: utter fail.
Never mind though, because when she’s forgiven me for leaving Bruce the teddy at home today, I can tell my 5-year-old all about it.
Picture: Mark Gray, Sheffield Steel-City Strider’s Website (that’s me in pink)