Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not-So-Great Expectations

I have decided to use my lunch hour and get out of the office. I did this for 2 reasons.  The first being that if I don't get out, I will sit in my office all day long and that is not good for the my butt or sanity.  The second being that if I go home for lunch, I eat whatever is left over from breakfast and lunch and dessert and a bag of goldfish for the road.  So I pack my lunch and ipod and head on over to the campus gym where I walk around a track.
If my college-self would have seen myself in work attire and tennis shoes I would have called myself a tool, but I'm now old enough to not care what anyone else thinks of my "smart"  outfit, and chances are, nobody is.
It gives me a chance to take my mind off of things, listen to music and think. I find my mind trying to figure out "what should I do about ______". This could be in reference to many things, its easy to fill in the blank. Just to name a few of my blanks:

What should I do about a coworker that is evil?
What should I do about Don leaving sock piles next to the bed?
What should I do about money?
What should I do about dinner?
What should I do about so and so's problem they dumped on me?
What should I do about missing the deadline for Jack's pre-school?
What should I do about my life?
What should I do about the boys?

It seems like for a brief moment I have brilliant solutions. But what I realized today is that all of these What should I do's were cultivated in a pot of deep expectations, some of them mine, most of them others.
Why should I expect that every person I work with will be pleasant. Shame on me for assuming that Don would change his sock habit after we got married etc. etc.

I tried to figure out who planted the expectation seed in my head and went back to my childhood.  I tried to find a situation when my parents said " you need to be wealthy, have a perfect husband and child, and life and children." but I couldn't quite recall that conversation.

The truth is, they didn't. Being the youngest, my parents had spent all their expectaion energy on my older siblings and by the time they got to me, I was just expected to NOT do things...like get in trouble, which I must have let them down considerably. So where did they (expectations) come from? Society I suspect.
When it was time to go to college, I set my own expectations and to be honest, I don't think they were very high. Mainly, it was just to have fun and graduate...which I did.

Recently I was having a What should I do about moment with Parker, my 7 year old.  He really enjoys tap dancing.  He is a rule follower and is detail oriented, at least when it comes to dance. A few weeks ago as I was allowed to observe his progress I found a sharp contrast between him and my other son, who is also taking the class.  They were at opposite sides of the line and I could see their faces in the mirror.  Finegan is lets say, for lack of a better description, screwing off, getting some steps, but ad libbing the rest. Parker is right on cue, even with the jazz hands. It was his the expression on his face that had me perplexed. He looked like Popeye. One eye squinting shut, a corner of his mouth open. The other kids had the beauty pagent smile beaming, but not Parker.  I didn't realize why he had this expression until I looked at his instructor's face.  Clearly she had had a stroke or had Bell's palsy and one side of her face was expressionless due to paralysis. Parker was immitating her and I hoped she didn't notice.
Do I fault him for being detail oriented?
Fin is not interested in sports at all, well unless its attached to a wii. Recently, he drew a picture of himself at the age of 100 and he had a long beard and was playing basketball.  My excitment overtook me and I asked if he thought he would be a professional ball player, he said "YES on the Wii!" I would be lying if I said I wasnt' a little worried. But worried because he will not play sports, or worried that my expectations of him playing sports may never come to fruition. Sports were a huge part of MY childhood, not his. 
The reason my parents are so proud of me now, isn't because of what I have, who I married or what I do for a living, its just because I'm happy. I was a happy funny kid and I'm a happy funny adult. I'm true to myself and that was their only expectation for me, which I have proudly met.
 So as of right now, I'm setting my preconceived notions on what boys should or shouldn't be on hold and allowing them to cultivate their own expectations for themselves.  Because who better to hold you accountable to your expectations, that yourself.

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