Be gracious, even when you’re wrong

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

“I’m straight 8.”

For the middle child, that was a big deal when it came time to computing her age division in basketball, since it meant the difference between a co-ed team and an all-girls team.

“Actually, I’m 8 and a third. Look, I’m using fractions.”

Since her birthday is in January, I said, “Technically, you’re 8 2/3 since you’re on the homestretch to nine.”

She looked at me, cocked her head and squinted her eyes – thinking hard.

“You’re right. Man, this math stuff ain’t for me.”

To which I wanted to reply, “Apparently, neither is English because we don’t say ‘ain’t’ in this house.” But instead, I cocked my head and arched my eyebrow in silent reproach.

“No, ma’am. It isn’t,” she quickly corrected herself.

This discussion just goes to show how important the little things in life are, but it also goes to show how easy it is, as a human, to make mistakes. Some of us may add wrong. Some of us may misspell a word. Some may forget to pick up the dry cleaning or the milk.

What sets us apart from others is our ability to graciously handle things when we make a mistake.

Case in point, I did a doozy a few weeks ago – and in print, no less, for the world to read. For me, it was a case of working a 16-hour day, being so tired I literally couldn’t see straight and having my fingers override my brain. Since the word used was spelled correctly, but used in the wrong context, spell check didn’t catch it before we went to press. I’m not making excuses for what happened. I’m taking ownership of my mistake, as I did as soon as I woke that following Saturday morning.

The paper was taken to task on social media – quite nastily, too, I must say, which seems to be the tone people use when criticizing The Star-News.

Like anyone, my first reaction was to pen a response that simply said, “Didn’t the Bible say, ‘Let he who is without blame cast the first stone’? Must be lonely living in such perfection, way up on that pedestal.”

But I didn’t.

Instead, I decided that pettiness deserved no response.

It’s a lesson that I hope that I can teach my children – along with how we do not end sentences with prepositions; that “ain’t” isn’t a word in their vocabulary; and that you always – and I mean always – do the right thing even though it may not be a popular (or pleasant) decision.