Caroline Verdon: Making mistakes is a really important part of learning

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I once faked it. We’ve all done it at some point. For me it was when I was a student. I was working part-time in New Look and the manager’s daughter was obsessed with the Teletubbies.

I was due to meet them when they came to my university ball and I’d promised her I’d get an autograph but I totally forgot…so I faked one. I bought a Teletubbies poster from HMV and took a purple marker pen and went for it “To Evie, lots of love from Tinky-Winky”. My boss was thrilled and even bought a frame for the poster so she could display in proudly in her toddler’s bedroom.

We’ve all faked something – Ant is having a fake stag do because when he organised his actual stag he forgot to invite some of his close relatives but they have all presumed they’d be on the list. Rather that admit this he is trying to avoid the awkwardness by having a pretend second one and making those attending the original shindig stay quiet. Clearly a terrible idea that will definitely backfire.

Tim in Crossgates called to say he faked his GCSE art coursework. He had to draw a series of people but just couldn’t get it right so he went through his mum’s drawings and passed them off as his own.

Ben in Moortown has a problem with his brother-in-law’s parents. They’re really posh and so he blames them for him having to fake it: “We just have nothing in common and I found myself sat with them at a family event when I was a student. They tried making conversation with me about wine regions and authors and I had nothing to add and then eventually we found some common ground and they asked if I liked theatre – I was studying theatre! I loudly said yes but it turns out when they say theatre they mean opera and when I say it I mean Wicked, Les Miserables and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. I found myself lying and saying I liked opera and now every time I see them they give me their review on the latest piece they’ve seen. It’s been five years now and I’ve kept the pretence up ever since – I even revise before we’re due to see them!”

Why do we do it? Why not just admit we forgot or that we’re not good at something or we don’t have the same tastes? I reckon it’s partly to do with confidence – we don’t have the confidence to really own everything about ourselves. When I was younger I was so concerned with how I was perceived and what other people thought that I didn’t want to make mistakes, I was mortified by them whereas now I see them as opportunities to learn and I understand that making mistakes is actually a really important part of us learning.

I think there’s also another element though and that’s empathy. I always been bothered about upsetting people, I wouldn’t want to cause them worry or pain or even slight awkwardness. Years back I went to a very good childhood friend’s wedding and was seated with her family. Her aunt who I’d met many times over the years called me Victoria and I didn’t correct her. At first it was because I felt a bit embarrassed for her. It’s awful getting someone’s name wrong and I didn’t want her to feel bad but the longer it went on, the weirder it got.

The wedding was a two day affair and she introduced me to other people as Victoria and I still went along with it. She got talking to my husband and I made him go along with it too because I’d missed that window of opportunity. In the end I even removed my place setting from the table as it said ‘Caroline’ and it had gone on for too long to be able to give any form of explanation that sounded rational.

Inevitably the bride found out and nearly ruined her make-up laughing at just how long this had gone on for and although she promised not to tell her aunt, ten years on she still winds me up about it by addressing cards ‘To Victoria.’

It was a bit of a lesson for me in nipping things in the bud. Of being open and honest from the start and (in the nicest possible way) not caring so much about how others feel if it is at my expense. I try hard to own my mistakes and admit my weaknesses. Which is why you’ve ever bought cakes that I’ve made at a bake sale I’m telling you now they were probably made by Tesco.

Changing expectations

Ant stopped at a petrol on the way to York this week and when he went to use the toilets he noticed that the only baby changing facilities were in the women’s toilets and it really wound him up and rightly so.

We heard from loads of mums and dads this week who were also annoyed by it. John Bird from Normanton said he took paternity leave when his kids were born and he felt really lonely. He tried attending the toddler groups but they were all aimed at mums and he felt left out and alone. A friend of mine pointed out that when their little one was born everyone said to him “How are mum and baby doing?” and few asked after him or checked that he was adjusting well to the lifestyle change. My husband and I co-parent. We both tackle everything equally and always have done. We’ve both done nappies and nightfeeds and we both make and enforce rules and routines together yet whenever he goes out alone with our toddler he gets comments like “oh are you on Daddydaycare?” or congratulatory statements for being “brave” enough to take Arthur around the shops. It’s really frustrating that in 2018 the assumption still seems to be that the man earns the money and wouldn’t want to be involved in anything to do with caring for his own child. I’m fully aware that there are men who are not involved in their children’s lives and I’m also aware that there are women who aren’t as well but overall shouldn’t our expectations change? If we’re moving towards equality shouldn’t this be important too?

Number one storyteller

There’s a game we’ve been playing this week- give me a topic and Ant bets I have a story on it, and he’s not been wrong yet!

Sarah in Bramley called this week and challenged me to have a story about a broken bone - wasy! Seven years ago I did panto only a week before I was due to start, I fell down the stairs. I knew that if I went to hospital and it turned out to be broken it would be game over so I just cracked on with the show which involved me spending hours on rollerblades. After six weeks of performances I finally got it checked and it turned out I’d broken it in six places but by some miracle the roller blade shoe had held my foot in the right place and five of them were mending perfectly. I was chuffed with myself. Fast forward seven years and one foot points in a weird direction and I have to wear special insoles – the moral of the story is never put off getting medical issues checked out! #story4everything #leedsnumber1storyteller

Caroline Verdon is one half of the breakfast show at Radio Aire. You can hear Caroline and Ant between 6-10am every weekday morning.