Last week I wrote about our big trip out to Bourke. Even though we had a great time, I actually feel like I let Birdy down a bit. You see, I kept telling her that we were going camping. Last time we went camping, she loved it, so I really talked up the whole camping thing. We pitched our tent by the river, surrounded by the beautiful gum trees and the laughing kookaburras, but… let’s just say the tent didn’t get much use.

I blame the good people of Bourke. They’re just too hospitable. Every time we told someone we were camping, they would insist that we stay at their house. So we never actually slept in the tent!  I felt a little bad because I’d promised Birdy a camping trip, but we didn’t do any camping. Slack, hey?

But that’s not all. As we were driving out of town, she spotted this great park that she wanted to play in.  I said no, because I wanted to get to Dubbo to go to the zoo. (Dubbo, for those who don’t know, has Australia’s best open range zoo.) So again, I talked it up. I said, ‘We’re going to see the giraffes and the zebras and the elephants.’ Unfortunately, we were a bit late getting away, and we stopped a bit too long for lunch so by the time we got to Dubbo, the zoo was closing. We couldn’t do that either.

Birdy was fine about it. I felt really terrible. But it made me realize two things. Firstly, I shouldn’t have talked up the zoo or the camping trip quite so much if I wasn’t going to follow through. (Being an extrovert, I tend to think out loud a lot, which can be a dangerous habit.) But secondly, we’re all going to let our kids down. There’s going to be times when we can’t make it to the school play or the soccer final or whatever. Or we lose our temper. Or we say something stupid. There’s a great picture book by Mem Fox that really captures that feeling of when we let our child down. It’s called Harriet, You’ll Drive me Wild. Do you know it? It’s about this pesky child, Harriet Harris, who always does the wrong thing. She doesn’t mean to, and she’s very sorry, but she drives her mother round the bend. And her mum tries very hard not to yell at her. But at the end of the book, the mother just explodes. And then the roles are reversed and it’s the mother saying sorry to the child. And I just love that book because it’s so true. We’ve all done that. And I guess we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves… Even so, hopefully next time I’ll plan the trip a bit better, so we get to the zoo on time.

Have you ever let your kids down? Has there ever been a time when you promised them something and you just couldn’t make it happen? Or when you lost your temper and said something you shouldn’t have? What did you learn from your mistake?

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