One of the best stories I've ever heard about "spilt milk" and the lessons of making a mess comes from a famous research scientist who made several very important medical breakthroughs. A newspaper reporter once asked him why he thought he was able to be so much more creative than the average person. What set him so far apart from others?
responded that, in his opinion, it all came from an experience with his
mother, which occurred when he was about two years old. He had been
trying to remove a bottle of milk from the refrigerator, when he lost
his grip on the slippery bottle and it fell, spilling its contents all
over the kitchen floor - a veritable sea of milk! (Thankfully, no glass
shattered, but the milk kept flowing out like a river.)
mother came into the kitchen, instead of yelling at him, giving him a
lecture, or punishing him, she said, "Robert, what a great and wonderful
mess you have made! I have rarely seen such a huge puddle of milk.
Well, the damage has already been done. Would you like to get down and
play in the milk for a few minutes before we clean it up?"
he did. After a few minutes his mother said, "You know, Robert,
whenever you make a mess like this, eventually you have to clean it up,
and restore everything to its proper order. So, how would you like to do
that? We could use a sponge, a towel or a mop. What do you prefer?" He
chose the sponge and together they cleaned up the spilled milk.
mother then said, "You know what we have here is a failed experiment in
how to effectively carry a big milk bottle with two tiny hands. Let's
go out in the back yard and fill the bottle with water and see if you
can discover a way to carry it without dropping it." The little boy
learned that if he grasped the bottle at the top near the lip with both
hands, he could carry it without dropping it. What a wonderful lesson!
renowned scientist then remarked that it was at that moment he knew he
didn't need to be afraid to make mistakes. Instead he learned that
mistakes were just opportunities for learning something new, which is,
after all, what scientific experiments are all about. They are simply
that--just experiments to see what happens. Even if the experiment
"doesn't work," we usually learn something valuable from it.
it be great if all parents responded the same way Robert's mother
responded to him? After all, why do we have that phrase, "Don't cry over
a little spilt milk." It truly is no big deal. We need to remember that
we're raising capable, confident kids - not shiny linoleum floors.
-- Author Unknown