ApParent expectations

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Life is full of expectations, and that’s good, right? Expectations are positive, encouraging feelings that motivate us to experience life in all its splendor – except when they’re not.

When your boss tells you that he expects your report on his desk by evening, he’s not being an overly optimistic gypsy predicting that the report would magically materialize on his desk by dusk – he’s being very polite in demanding that you complete the task by then, instead of just playing video games at your desk.

That's right. He knows what you do, Phil. You're not fooling

That’s right. He knows what you do, Phil. You’re not fooling anyone.

When your teacher expects to see an improvement in your exam scores, she’s demanding better efforts. When your dad expects you to turn off the lights by 11, he’s making a demand. In more cases than not, expectations are thinly veiled demands placed by or on you.

When does this cycle of demand/expectation begin? You might say that it starts from the time you’re born, but you’d be wrong. I would argue that it starts much earlier than that – several months earlier, in fact.

That’s when your parents were… ‘expecting’.

“I expect he OR she would make a fine doctor one day”

For the most part, the standard expectation is to excel on arbitrary benchmarks set by society. When you’re born, you are expected to be like your parents; to show off your genetic inheritance and be fodder for bragging rights like “He’s got his father’s nose, his mother’s eyes, his grandfather’s drool, and his great-grandmother’s non-existent teeth”. The first inheritance you get is a set of expectations – you need to achieve all those cool things in life your parents couldn’t.

The benchmarks grow even more arbitrary as you grow up – In school, you’re expected to score higher than the neighbor’s kid, thereby laying the foundation for future expectations. Once you graduate, the expectations multiply. On the one hand, people have expectations on your career front, which I won’t delve into right now; I’ll save that bit for a twelve part epic novel.

The first eleven books would just be an indexed list of expectations from everybody.

On the other hand, people place expectations on your personal life, despite the word ‘personal’ being right up there in the description. These expectations start early on, but you tend not to notice them when you’re a kid. Once you move into adulthood, you get the illusion of control. For most, the time when this misconception is shattered is around the time society thinks you should be married.

There are many types of people out there in the world – not all of them are meant to be thrust into marriage. There are some people who don’t want to, and apparently, quite a lot who don’t deserve to. However, society has collectively agreed that by the time someone reaches a particular age, it is unnatural to be single anymore. This ‘particular age’ is different for men and women, and slightly different from culture to culture. But the generalized expectation seems to ring true for all.

Tying the knot gives you a brief reprieve, but within a year, you realize that you merely advanced to the next level of societal expectation – Kids. You’re expected to have kids so that you can propagate the cycle from the beginning, once again.

It's the circle of strife.The Lion King | Walt Disney Pictures

It’s the circle of strife.

Here is where societal pressure becomes even more bizzare. The only reasons why couples don’t have a child by this time are –

  1. They are unable to
  2. They don’t want to
  3. They simply want to wait longer

If they are unable to have kids, chances are that the medical community has a plan for them. But as long as we’re going by chances, what are the odds that this couple has not seen a doctor? If your plan is just to tell them to see a doctor, you’re assuming that they’re such colossal dimwits that they don’t know what a doctor is. If they really are that stupid, you should ask yourself whether you want to help them procreate. By their idiocies combined, you might get the next Sarah Palin.

"Sacre bleu! We don't want to risk that!"

“Sacre bleu! We don’t want to risk that!”

If you’re their parent, and have a vested interest in getting them to push out your grand-kids, OR if the couple asks you for advice, you’re justified in giving advice. If you have some novel treatment plan that is too niche for the couple to have heard about on their own, you can guide them to it. In any other case, it’s just plain bizarre.

Besides, how do you know they have medical issues? Maybe they filled in 2) or 3) in the form above. It may be difficult for you to understand, but some people do NOT want kids. They probably have their reasons. Maybe they hate kids. Maybe they feel the effort isn’t worth it. Maybe they were bitten by a hyperactive kid in a laboratory when they were younger. Maybe they’re afraid their kids would grow up to be insensitive schmucks who spew unwanted parental advice. It doesn’t matter. Whatever the reason, how likely is it that they would change their minds after you give your two minute sermon?

"Thank you! Your clarification on how babies are made really helped push our decision."

“Thank you! Your lecture has really helped push our decision. If only your parents had someone like you to help out!”

People who enter parenthood often generates an air of superiority. Even if it is dumb-as-Palin Jeff from accounting – who keeps using Comic Sans to invoice his clients; Once he becomes a dad, he feels duty-bound to share the joys of parenthood to all and sundry.

Will that happen to me? We’ll find out… pretty soon. In a few short months, I’ll be the proverbial proud daddy myself. I was hoping I wouldn’t turn into a smug jackass, but that turned out to be just wishful thinking. Even in this pre-daddy phase, I can feel an air of smugness growing around me.

I’m thrilled to be a dad. I can’t wait to get a hold of my kid – my own mini-me, who will get to do all the things I couldn’t – play the guitar, play the keyboard, take voice lessons, top his classes, write the next big novel, break new frontiers in science, and earn a gazillion bucks to turn over to my grand-kid someday.

At least… that’s what I’m expecting.

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