I’m a perfectionist. That means I have an irrational fear of failure.

Engage if you’re relatively confident you can win–or, at the very least, not look like a fool.

Not a great philosophy, actually, and one that I’m trying to change.

I wanted to make a fancy cake for Diedra’s fortieth birthday. I’m not a baker. I grill meats mostly, and I’m competent at a smattering of other dishes.

Knowing that I’m not a baker was impetus to do a rehearsal cake. If that flopped, there would be enough time to come up with plan B.

The rehearsal was okay. Came out a bit dry. But I learned some things, and it went well enough overall that I felt that I could probably pull it off–and even better the second time.

One rehearsal, and I’m bit by overconfidence. I’m practically Julia!

Hmmm….This second cake is so much lighter in color than the first one. I realize, with that horrible sinking feeling, that I inexplicably left out half the chocolate. If I could read I could see that four ounces is the whole bar. Ugh.

Now, if I can keep my wits, I’ve got an opportunity to teach How to Respond to a Disappointing Failure. I have a choice to make–there are several right answers. The only wrong answer is to despair and reinforce to my watching progeny that Failure is the End of the World. If I rally, and start again, I just might pull off another cake in time.

In this case, the third time really was the charm. It often won’t be. Persevere anyway.

Reine de Saba [Chocolate and Almond Cake]

“‘You’ve all failed today!’ Ms. Rapscott said cheerfully, and even hopped a little with joy, for she thought that failure was a true sign of effort. ‘Never fear, girls, with practice you’ll get it right.'”

Elise Primavera, Ms. Rapscott’s Girls, 134 [My kids love this book–works great for read alouds].