Failure is like a box of Twinkies

Failure. Oh, we’ve talked about it a lot. Talk is cheap. I can tell youto embrace failure all I want. Easy peasy. But put your money where your mouth is. Or, your picture where the world can see it.

This past week was fair week. For ordinary mortals, that is probably not an event. But we are not ordinary. We are veterans of fifteen years of 4H, which translates to roughly 326 County Fair projects, give or take. Usually, these are all completed in about a week’s time. 

Every year I tell my kids, “Let’s start early and not be stressed about fair projects at the last minute!” Which always ends up, “Let’s think about starting early but really start a week before and then spend the last two days slapping together projects like we have stock in hot glue sticks.” 

We were “that family” who carried 45 projects for three kids in six trips from the car (in 95 degrees), some of which were over three feet tall. (We still have the matchstick Eiffel Tower. It’s a classic.) We also carried super glue, duck tape, safety pins, and scissors. Because we knew the glue was not yet dry and some of the paper still needed trimming. And framing. 

We’ve had our championships, but we’ve had our failures, too.

So here, for your enjoyment, is one of our epic culinary failures.

Can you guess what they were supposed to be? 

But the best part? This. This is my daughter’s face upon her first taste of a Twinkie. Just before she took a flying leap at the garbage can to spit it out. Seriously, if the kid could run like that all the time, she’d have a track scholarship this fall.

Lest you believe, very erroneously, I am such a saintly mother that no processed snack has ever passed her lips and that is why, at this age, she had never tasted a Twinkie, um, no. There have been wholesale-size boxes of ho-hos and ding-dongs at my house. But I draw the line at eating unnaturally yellow couch cushion foam. There have be some standards.

guess I don’t have to worry about her
ever eating Twinkies again.

Child #3 and I were attempting to craft cupcakes that would win a ribbon in food decoration. Or, at least, not embarrass her too greatly. In cake decorating, that is usually the best I could hope for. In cake decorating, I use creativity to cover up for a lack of proficiency. (That may explain a lot in other areas of my life as well.) She, however, is somewhat more proficient.

Except not here.

Yes, these things were failures. FAILURES. The frosting didn’t “dip” properly. The Twinkies broke. The food coloring that was supposed to be grey-blue came out more violent violet, which is perhaps not the color of your average whale. (Though more appetizing than grey, really.) The cute licorice supposed to look like rope tying together the pier looked like . . . licorice and cookie wafers. Drunken licorice and cookie wafers.

The failed whales are now the stuff of epic family legend. 

Then we tried apples. Slightly less of a failure but not fair worthy. The third time, she tried flowers. And they were awesome. And they won a reserve champion ribbon. And they are now her signature offering at special occasions. Because everyone is incredibly impressed by the flower cupcakes. 

Failure. Is. Not. Final. 

Unless you let it be. Unless you try once and walk off muttering, “I am the worst excuse for a cupcake decorator born to man and I will never try this again.” Failure is a jumping off point to learn what you need to know to do it better. It’s either an instigator or an excuse. It’s always our call. 

 Keep trying. The law of averages is on your side, if nothing else. Plus, failure can make for some fantastic pictures and stories to tell later.

What have you learned from failure? (Other than never to buy Twinkies again.)

Any epic fails out there you’d like to share? I know you have them. I hope you do. If not, you’re doing it wrong.

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