THAT'S LIFE: Reign of error

How do you build resilience at home? Blog with Simon by leaving a comment below.

I sometimes think if resilience is the one thing I teach my kids before I slip off the mortal coil, I’ll have done my job as a parent.

It’s certainly not going to be handyman prowess at this stage of the game.

When it comes to resilience, the ability to try, try again if at first, or second, or 14th go, you don’t succeed is critical to achieving handyman success.

Or something approximating handyman success. Eventually. Depending on your tolerance for dodgy.

Cynics say doing the same thing over and over again in search of a different outcome is the definition of insanity.

But such people have probably never tried to screw things into walls or assemble flatpack furniture, and thus wouldn’t know the meaning of the word ‘‘hope’’.

For how else do we assemble something if we don’t first hope, and then fail?

It’s a question I often put to the kids, or the cat, or anyone in the vicinity when I’m ‘‘installing’’.

Often in colourful language at volume.

And once the towel rack is up, lopsided, or the cabinet assembled complete with a few extra screws that probably should be in there somewhere, I’ll bring it home with a validation along the lines of “see, never give up, kids”.

They probably wish I’d never started, given the creative tension it creates. And ditto, folks.

But then they realise it might be good to hang up their towels, rather than strew them on the floor – because I’m armed.

So they’ll overlook the huffy puff and exhibit what I choose to think of as ‘‘resilience’’.

That is, they’ll ignore my ranting.

Delusionally I’ll often pat myself on the back and think, ‘‘what a good teacher am I!’’

Yes, it disturbs me that I might have lost it yet again with screwdriver in hand.

But not as much as the lurking suspicion my kids think I’m a loser bent on jamming mediocrity down their throats.

And true, on a harsh reading you could get that from the lopsided towel rack.

But I tend to set such thoughts aside because, like my children, I’m resilient too.

That holds me in good stead when said kids continue to leave their towels on the floor despite there being a perfectly dodgy, half-attached German-engineered towel rack set on an angle on the wall.

Have I failed? I’ll sometimes wonder when confronted with situations like this.

To an objective observer the answer is clear.

But the resilient person finds methods to rationalise away the obvious.

I usually start by intimating to my kids, without intending to skew their HSC preparations, that failure is an intrinsic part of life, best evidenced by its inevitable conclusion, death.

I’ll stress to them that’s not a threat.

But I won’t rule it out if they don’t starting hanging up their towels.

And if I’m resilient enough, one day they just might do it.

In the meantime, I can always log onto the government’s newly created myCompass website – an interactive, self-help tool designed to promote mental health – and study techniques to preserve sanity while I wait.

You won’t find headings like “Happy wife, happy life’’, “Shut up, just fix it”, or my particular favourite, “Bloody hell, not again!”

But there are step-by-step modules that can aid in achieving and maintaining resilience.

And anything that helps people do that is a good thing.

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