Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dad Created Expectations

Jessica, now about to finish college, remembers well the expectations that came with growing up in her household.

"I remember growing up: Dad would read something from a magazine or the paper about a scientist new discovery or a doctor who saved a life and then he would ask me, "Is there a reason you can't do that someday?" I would have to answer no, of course not.

"Growing up it was never a question of 'if you go to college'. It was 'when you go to college.' I knew, even though we didn't have much money, that there was a way to go to college. Everyone could go to some college if they wanted to. It might mean starting at junior college, or getting scholarships or taking out loans. But I was going. period. That expectation was always in my head so I never, ever thought otherwise. I knew it to be true like I knew water ran from the tap. You don't question things when they are a part of everyday life.

"I guess I had confidence because my Dad pointed out things I had done right, not just things I did wrong. For example, I remember when I wrote a story in the fifth grade. He read it, pointed out specific things that were right -- this character was believable, that sort of stuff. He said my ability to write would help me get into college and do well. Kids believe what you tell them. You tell them something is rotten and it doesn't always inspire the kid to do better, instead it may convince them they are just not good at it and give it up. I know Dad knew that.

"He had a rule that I couldn't just go to school and then veg out. I had to belong to something -- a club, play a sport, whatever. But I had to be in something else. That made me look at all the things in school and I ended up doing a lot of extra-curricular activities, which helped me get into college. Duh! Of course, if friends said it was lame to join this or that I said I had to, my Dad was making me.

"And he was there when I played soccer or when I gave an important presentation. I would go on the field or on the stage and he would nod and me like 'Yes you can.' And of course I could.

"When I screwed up in middle school and got in trouble he never lost that confidence. 'This is a detour, this isn't who you are. You'll soon be back on track' he said.

"Now, I'm going to law school. I'm going to be a judge someday. I didn't grow up with the 'things' so many kids have, we just didn't have much money. But I grew up with the confidence to be anything I wanted to be. And I will.'

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