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The Best Intentions

A cricket was hopping down our hall when the girls first caught sight of it. Recently, they have been on a quest to catch every bug they can find inside our house and release them safely outdoors. They spend hours peering into corners and under furniture to see if some little creature might have accidentally found its way into the house and be in need of their help to get back outside. So far this week they have rescued two crickets, one roly-poly and one tiny spider. 

This little cricket was proving to be quite the challenge. I could hear the girls’ tiny feet running down the hall. Their racing steps were then replaced by hushed whispers as they discussed their strategy, indicating whose hands should be cupped and how they were going to scoop the cricket into a soft piece of felt to transport it outside. “There – there – push it a little this way – darn it!” I heard Ella say. Hurried feet went padding down the hall in the opposite direction as the cricket chase resumed. 

Earlier in the day, we had been putting together their back-to-(online)-school supplies. Emma raced by to borrow a pencil from her pencil box, saying the cricket was stuck in a corner and they couldn’t get it out and they were going to nudge it out with the pencil.

I continued working, expecting to see them running to open the back door to release the cricket. But instead, I heard only silence. The silence was loud. Something was wrong.

I walked over to where they sat side by side in the living room. Tears were rolling down their cheeks. The pencil was clutched in Emma’s hand. The cricket’s body was motionless in Ella’s palm. “It’s dead,” they sobbed. “We tried to push it out – and we were trying to be gentle – but we smashed it,” Emma explained through her tears.

Even with the best intentions, mistakes happen. Thankfully, they also offer us the most direct access we can get to discovery, learning and improvement. 

I listened to the girls reflecting and correcting:

“Maybe next time we should just wait patiently.”

“Let’s go bury the cricket in the backyard and put a flower on top.” 

“I’ll write a note about how it was a very nice cricket with this pencil.”

“Now we know to be extra gentle.”

Mistakes are opportunities for people willing to learn and grow from their experiences.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.