Okay, so she gets it honest. Lexi absolutely hates being wrong, at any time, in any way. In fact, she will try her best to convince you after the fact that she’s still right regardless of the evidence against that even remotely being true. She reminds me of myself when she gets obstinate like that, crafting entire scenarios to bolster her version of events, creating entirely new scientific evidence from thin air to support her claim. But in the end she’s not even really convincing herself, just really trying to distance herself from what she perceives as failure.
We’ve talked about it often, this inability to accept the truth when it skews differently from her opinion, and it bothers me because I see her growing up as this inflexible human being, like I still am at times. I guess it’s true that we want something more for our children than we’ve had, and in this case I don’t want her to have this portion of herself be like me. I want her to be open to the glory of being wrong. The following conversation happened while we were reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Me: So, Lexi, why do you think Harry is worried about this potion that Snape just gave to Professor Lupin?
Lexi: I don’t know.
Me: Well, think about it. Harry thinks Snape is evil, AND he knows that Snape wants Lupin’s job. Why would that worry him, Snape giving Lupin the potion?
Lexi: I don’t know what you want me to say!
Me: I don’t want you saying something just because. I want you to use some of your own reasoning skills and arrive at an educated guess.
Lexi: But I don’t know.
Me: Well, how do you think Snape could get Lupin’s job? And how might a potion have anything to do with that plan?
Lexi: Maybe the potion could give Snape Lupin’s job.
Lexi: Daaaaaad. I don’t want to guess anymore.
Me: Why not? Having these deductive skills when you read is very important, not just in reading, but in interpreting what life throws at you as well.
Lexi: But I just don’t know!
Me: You don’t have to know. I just want you to guess, knowing what you do about the world of Harry Potter, what you do about Snape, and his possible motivations.
Lexi: But what if I’m wrong?
Me: So you do have a guess, but you don’t want to say it because you’re worried you’ll be wrong?
Lexi: I don’t want to be wrong!
Me: But you know you’re going to be wrong sometimes, and it’s okay, but you can’t just not do things or not live your life for fear that you’ll be wrong. It will be a sad existence if you are always in fear of being wrong.
Lexi: But if I’m wrong, that means I’m not smart.
Me: That’s not true, Lexi. If anything, allowing yourself to go out there, to take risks, proves just how smart you are, and how smart you want to be.
Lexi: Smart people are always right, though.
Me: No, they aren’t. Think about all the inventions that have made the world a better place. Think about all the times Alexander Graham Bell had to revise his work because something about it didn’t work. It takes smart people years, and lots of mistakes, to come up with something worthwhile and groundbreaking.
Lexi: But I still don’t like being wrong.
Me: So you hem and haw, and you moan and whine so you don’t have to take any chances in life? You know, I used to be that way. Sometimes I still am. But it’s so much better and easier for me when I take those chances, when I get outside of my comfort zone. You can do it too, and it starts with telling me what you think about Snape and this potion. Remember, it’s just your opinion based on what you already know from the books.
Lexi: Okay, okay. I’ll guess.
Me: That’s all I ask. I don’t ask you to be right. I ask you to think about it with that smart brain of yours and try to figure out what’s happening and why.
Lexi: Well, if Snape wants Lupin’s job, maybe the potion will make Lupin lost his memory like Lockhart did in the Chamber of Secrets.
Me: That’s a good guess! Because that’s how Lupin got the job in the first place. See what I mean? It’s really smart to take guesses like that, informed guesses based on what you already know.
Lexi: But is that really why?
Me: We’ll find out as we keep reading, but it’s good to have it in your mind for when we do find out. Predicting based on what you already know is one of the best ways to read and to follow along, but it’s also good when it comes to figuring out what’s happening in your life.
Lexi: So, can we just get back to reading now?
Me: Sure we can, but next time I ask you a question you’re going to try instead of whining how you don’t want to be wrong, right?
Lexi: Sure, dad. Sure.
Me: I’ll take it.