Better to Guess Wrong Than Never to Guess at All

Hola! Como esta?

My littles are loving their Spanish lessons.  They are learning all kinds of words and how to dialogue.  One of their favorite things is when their Spanish teacher writes stories about the two of them with Miss Sophie in Spanish.  They love reading it aloud and translating it to English.

Their other favorite thing is something she shared a couple of weeks ago.


Remember that game?

You start off with the stand and spaces for a word or phrase sitting beneath it.  If you guess a letter correctly, the letter is placed on the correct space or spaces.  If you don’t, another body “part” is put on the stand.

The way they play is much like we used to.  We used to add facial features, fingers, toes, etc before we’d call someone out and done.  In the interest of giving them every chance we could.  The littles’ teacher plays much the same way.

I played with my Granny and Granddaddy when I was little.  They had the official red and blue plastic “game” version that had letter tiles and everything.  I remember looking up in the dictionary and finding the word “bilabial,” which of course they didn’t guess.  I messed up the pronunciation six ways to Sunday, and my Grandaddy told me I had picked a good word because they couldn’t figure it out.

Bless him.  Who could?  What was I thinking?

My littles had never really played the game in English, let alone Spanish. It has been entertaining to watch them learning how to play.

They are so nervous.  They are really, really afraid of choosing the wrong letter.  Each time they choose a letter that doesn’t have a spot and a body part gets added, they get so anxious because they are one. step. closer.  To it all being over.

No matter how much their teacher assures them they won’t be “hung”–no matter how often she gives them hints, they are so afraid of failing that they freeze up and can’t do anything.


It occurred to me yesterday morning when they were playing the game that this is what we do in life so often, isn’t it?  We become frozen with fear, and that keeps us from making any move at all.

When in fact, the move is what guarantees our success.  The more letters we guess, even if they are wrong, the closer we come to knowing what the answer is.  In fact, the wrong answers tell us very nearly as much as the correct ones do.

Ah yes, I see what you did there, Life.  Giving me an example of why I should move forward, push ahead, make a MOVE–and let go of the fear that keeps me from doing anything.  At.  All.  Learning through my children.

Very cool there, Jerry.  (Sometimes we use nicknames like that. But that’s another story.)

And so tonight I’m thankful for the enthusiasm my littles have for learning something new.  I love seeing the excitement when their sweet teacher pulls out the dry erase board and says, “Hangman!”  They tried something new, and they love it.  And hopefully one day they will realize that it is in the trying that they find true success.

You know, when I used to play with my brother, I’d add on all kinds of things–clothes, buttons, sunglasses–so he could keep choosing and not hang.  I wanted him to give him every chance I could to figure it out on his own.

Here’s to those who gave me the grace of “clothes and buttons and sunglasses” in my life–those who gave me every chance to succeed in life that they could.  Wishing you all someone like that as well.


L_V_   T_  _LL.


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