Unexpected Vs Expected
I think the key to making this question “free your mind from negativity” is to go with the first answer – without overthinking it – that pops in your mind, because that is the most honest answer from your body, and maybe your brain.As usual, I had high expectations about the eloquent words and experiences I wanted to share to illustrate this point, and instead I am going to give you a mash-up of the randomness that has scattered through my brain stewing on this. Lucky you.
The first thing that occurred to me is, I expect, pretty obvious: My son.
Yes, in the broadest stroke, I am one of those who claim that my life as a parent is better, way better even, than expected. Both better than I ever expected it to be when I dreamed of parenthood and better than every fear that crashed over me when doctors dropped upon me the diagnosis that my baby was born with Down syndrome.
I mean seriously, what were the odds?
Well, one in 2000 actually, so Down syndrome was not a phrase I expected to hear that blue skied morning nearly 24 years ago.
Now, to be clear, I do not give “Down syndrome” credit for who my son is and the life we have together, no, I am delighted everyday with Marcus – as a whole person – and the life he has shared with me is far better than expected.
That is the broad stroke of truth.
For another more specific example, the first one that popped into my head was a night at karaoke. Marcus has sung Karaoke since he was small, he’d go with us when there was a party or big group and stay ‘til it was time to kick out the kids. He was never shy with a microphone. Ever.
This particular night, however, it was just Marcus and I out, I don’t remember why but I remember we weren’t quite ready to go home. So we stopped at a karaoke bar for a drink. Since it was just he and I, I was nervous and planned to “stay for one” then move on. There was no big group to encourage and, well, protect him. The bar was very busy and late enough to be in party mode, and I wished we could back out, ‘cause, well…drunk people. But once you get Marcus in the door to sing, there would have to be serious negotiations for a back out now. And why should we? No. We’re doing this.
Enough build up. Marcus sang “The Banana Boat Song” – I stand to the side near the back and watch. He sings and folks sing along. He finishes and the crowd goes wild. WILD! People want to “high five” as he makes his way back to the bar. Everyone was rooting for him. I’m blown away.
Back to the semantics: Well, what did I expect? I guess my highest hopes were polite tolerance. Is that fair? No, but, well…people. I’m still always nervous when Marcus and I go out alone, maybe I always will be, but like I talked about here in a different positive karaoke experience, since Marcus has a face that can literally alert people to his different way of processing, he may be an easy target. That is perhaps an unfair expectation. I am sometimes pleasantly surprised.
The next thing that came to mind was another broad stroke: school. When Marcus was born I expected to have to fight with school system to get him both a fair chance and, well frankly, an education. I didn’t expect that they would beat me. When they decreed, without any room to budge, after several well planned and documented meetings and letters from an attorney, that still the only placement they would allow Marcus was in a segregated classroom of severely handicap children needing constant care. This was beyond my comprehension. And wrong for my son. (You can read more about that battle here.)
So then we did what we did not expect, we sent him to a private, Catholic school for children with special needs. So me, a very much not Catholic and an already tired fighter at age, 25, threw in the towel and chose a “special school” for my child.
In one way, I chose to segregate him. He was now segregated away from people who had limited vision for his future. He was now segregated away from people who saw him only as a number, a number to be conformed or even hidden or shut out.
There were still school trials, no doubt, but not battles. After 16 years, I am most pleased with the confidence that the Madonna School instilled in Marcus. He learned and grew in an environment that was safe and comprehensive of his needs as a whole person. Overall, those Catholics turned out much better than I expected :).
When was the unexpected better than what you expected?
Well, I’ve kept you long enough, now it’s your turn: When was the unexpected better than what you expected? Tell us here in the comments or share on your own blog. I look forward to hearing about it…