An interesting word expectation, a word often used by parents, educators and members of the community. Our children are expected to behave in a certain way, they are expected to achieve certain grades they are expected to be respectful, helpful and polite and sadly if they are adopted or fostered they are often expected to be grateful or feel lucky. I had never really thought about my expectations or rather the effect those expectations had on others until I had children. I remember saying once that I believed that my children behaved in a certain way because I expected them too. And there is definitely truth in that however this adoption road has made me re think our futures and for the good.
Ten years ago when I was informed that child 1 was going to remain in the reception class, whilst all her friends moved on into class 1, I wasn't necessarily surprised and actually believed the opportunity for her to have another year in a very play led environment would be a benefit, however many others would/did see this as detrimental to her education, in fact many people's expectations of her academic abilities were based on this and this was so damaging during late primary school and early secondary school. (I can't tell you how wrong they were, she is growing into a beautiful, creative, confident and happy teenager.)
With child 4 I fear that people have flawed expectations and he doesn't have the same foundations that child 1 has to ensure that he can have the same confidence in himself. In the adoption world we talk of trauma and attachment and the behaviours they trigger, in education it seems that lack of education in the needs of children in care that our children are at worst expected to fail or when their behaviours are not the same as the other children in the class they are isolated or their early years are carefully managed and hidden away like its a dirty secret, they are expected to quietly get on with it - "it doesn't matter if you don't have a photo of you as a baby." Then there are those who expect our children to be happy because they are lucky to have found a family to look after them and love them.
I want to shout from the roof tops "Forget expectations, how can we know how our children feel if we don't ask them, let them try the things they want to try and if they don't succeed so what, help them up and find something new! After all they have to live their own lives not one shaped by the expectations of their parents".
Over the last two years I have moved away from expectations and into the world of hopes and dreams. I hope all my children do the best they can in school and I will help them in anyway I can, I hope they make the right kind of friends, people who like them and respect them and I can help here too by keeping an open house environment, the kids you don't want your children to hang out with will hopefully stay away. I hope that child 4 feels loved and secure enough to talk about how he feels to come to us when things go wrong. I hope that they have the courage to follow their dreams and I will walk with them until they don't need me too.
I don't expect any of them to be grateful for having a loving and happy home as they are what makes our house a home but I do hope that they remember growing up here with happy memories and I dream of the day when they and their families come to visit.