Lowering Expectations

My daughter Heather, who is now a mother of two herself, was as good a kid growing up as any child could be. She always tackled life with an “it will always work out” type of attitude. Sometimes, however, as a parent, you have to temper enthusiasm in your child with a dose of hard reality. Around the time Heather was six, her mother and I had just bought our first house, after selling our condo. The house was in the same town in which her mother and I had grown up.

One day when I arrived home from work I found a very serious six-year-old working on a project on our dining room table. I assumed it was for school but I was mistaken. “I am designing a dress Daddy,” Heather explained. “Okay,” I said and added, “Why?” Heather told me that a local clothing store was having a contest for kids ages 6 to 12 to design a dress. If you won, the store would actual make the dress.

I had a couple of problems with this scene that I had just walked into, so I searched for Heather’s Mom. When I tracked her down, I did my best to expressed my chief concern. This was a contest for 6 to 12 year-olds and the odds of a 6 year-old winning were not at all good, or for that matter anybody’s chances were not great. And here I walk into my home witnessing not only that my six-year-old daughter was attempting to design a dress, but also that Heather had no doubt she would win the contest.

I pleaded with her mother to help me lower Heather’s expectations. So, I went into the dining room to discuss the entire scenario. I explained how her age plus the amount of contestants would make winning the contest virtually impossible. I explained that it still was a great experience to enter, work as hard as you could and to take great satisfaction that she competed and had a good time. Heather always had a “knowing” look, wise beyond her years. She said, “I understand what you are saying Daddy. But I am still going to win.”

What could I do now? Wait and hope that my daughter won’t be crushed with disappointment? There was another entire possibility for which I hadn’t accounted. Nowhere in my thoughts was the idea that Heather could actually win the contest. Two weeks later I came home from work and Heather is beaming. “What’s up Princess?” I asked. “I won the contest Daddy, I get my dress in two weeks.” That was the day I realized that Heather would always be able to accomplish whatever she had set in her mind. For years Heather had that dress, just to remind her that anything is possible.

She probably knew just one of the following things: How proud I was of her. And how stupid I felt for trying to lower her expectations. Now she has two daughters of her own. I can’t wait until they both enter a “Design Your Own Dress Contest”. This time, I’ll just encourage them and wait. It is never fun to be wrong as a Daddy, or even as a Grand-Daddy.

That is it for a Hump Day.
Thanks for dropping by the WTIT Studio today.
Parts of this post appeared on July 17, 2006.
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Mimi Lenox said...

I have always loved this story. Glad you posted it again. You are a great daddy and grand-daddy.
But you knew that.

Bond said...

It is easier to encourage as a grand-daddy (or so I have been told)

Reminds me of Matt in 7th grade coming home to tell me he had not made the Middle school baseball team. As I sat there crushed he looked at me and said "Well dad, next year i will make them regret not taking me"

And dang if he did not make the team and go on to captain his HS team.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Yep, I knew she was going to win. Felt it in my bones right in the start of your post. Heather rocks! What an inspirational post. Have a great day Bud. :)

Shannon H. said...

I also think you are a great father and grandfather. Thank you for sharing this story with us.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Thanks, I really appreciate it!

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Great story! Thanks for sharing it.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

It may be why she has a 4.0 currently at Rutgers... Thanks!

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Thank you!

Turnbaby said...

I really love this story.

Tink said...

Great story! It's stories like this that help us relize that our kids really are great and amazing!

But we knew that anyway, didn't we?

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...


Thanks SO much!!

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

You are right, we do know it!

Starrlight said...

Great story Bud =)

Linda said...

I don't think that you were trying to lower her expectations so much as you were trying to protect her from disappointment and there's certainly nothing wrong with that. Part of our job as parents is to provide protection from all sorts of things as much as we can and I give you major points for that.

I love the fact the story had a happy ending! Good for Heather!

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

I appreciate that!

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

I was shocked! Thanks...