Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Exceeding expectations

You know, I spend a lot of time tailoring my expectations for my kids, making sure that, although I hope for the best, I don't expect more than their miswired neurological systems can deliver. I try to keep things realistic. But then comes a morning like we had a couple of days ago, and I wonder if my expectations aren't still far, far too high.

For example: Why should I expect my son to actually eat grapefruit, just because he begged for it in the store? Just because I'd spent five minutes on a hectic morning cutting it to his specifications, why should I expect him to do anything different than touch a piece to his tongue and deny it further entry? Why should I not have seen that coming a citrus grove away?

And why should I expect my daughter, who normally pops out of bed full of energy at 6:30 a.m., to do the same when she knows she has last-minute homework to finish? Goodness knows I don't pop out of bed when I know I have work to do; why should she? Expecting too much, I am.

And speaking of homework, just because my girl is meticulous about doing everything on her homework list, and requires very little supervision to remember to do her homework, just because of that, why should I be surprised when, on the worst possible morning, when we already have unfinished work to do, she suddenly turns up a math worksheet that she had all weekend to do but didn't? Why should I expect her to be on top of things just because she always is?

And why, just because math facts are her one shining academic strength, should I expect her to do the addition and subtraction problems on that math worksheet correctly? Why should I expect my complete lack of time to correct that sheet and have her re-do any wrong answers to influence her ability to do it right the first time? Expecting the impossible, is what I'm doing here.

After all, why should I expect that, on any given horrible, time-driven morning, at least one of my children will do what I say and keep moving? Why should I expect one of them to always get ready on time? When my son is acting up of a morning, any given morning really, his sister can usually be relied on to rise, dress, eat, prepare backpack, and get in the car. But when that sister is having an unexpected homework crisis, can I expect her brother to pick up the slack and just do one bleeping thing that I tell him to do? Surely not. Do not expect a thing.

Though, along those lines, why should my children expect that I will keep control of my frustration at such a frustrating time? Why should they expect that I will keep a smile on my face and tears safely tucked in their ducts? Why should they expect me not to lose it, when I have lost it in such situations before? Unreasonable expectations of me they surely have. We'll all have to work on that.

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