Pitfalls of unrealistic expectations

In my big revelation day yesterday (aka things I already knew but finally realized again) I thought a lot about unrealistic expectations. I have to admit that I have a tendency to place unrealistic expectations on people, not all the time, but often enough that I recognize it and they do too at times. I don't mean to, it just happens. It comes from me knowing that they know better or should know things or do things but due to circumstances may not be able to.

In regards to Kian, I recognized this in Kevin much earlier than I did in myself. Kevin would become frustrated and say things like "why is he doing...?" or "why is he acting like...?" or on and on. My answer was always "because he's too!" Then, I realized I too was expecting too much of him.

Now, I'm not giving Kian a free pass using the terrible twos excuse or anything, but I know it's rough being two and trying to adjust to all the changes and to try to be so independent. It was like, suddenly when Karter came along we expected him to know certain things, do certain things, do things for himself, listen better, behave a certain way, etc. just because he was the older child. I was seeing Kian as such a "big boy" that I forgot he was still little. Sure, we expect him to help out, pick up his toys, use his fork, and certain behavior is accepted. But, suddenly we were thinking he should be acting 5 instead of 2 just because there was a baby in the house.

Another thing is that I was totally encouraging his independence in the last year, which Kevin was never fully on-board with. There weren't a lot of "rules" because he behaved well and there wasn't much he couldn't do. However, this created a problem when Karter arrived. Kian still wants to do everything for himself, by himself; including getting his own snacks and drinks, getting out movies, using electronics, among many other things. It was okay before because one of us was there to assist. Now, with me being unable to just jump up and help because of feeding Karter or something like that, he still tries to do it himself with messy results, broken pieces, or him getting hurt. It's not easy to undo the independence thing. Trying to explain to him that now he has to ask before getting something or eating something, or he has to wait for help (to do it by himself) is not something easy to undo and unlearn.

So, we're trying to scale back our expectations of a two and a half year old. We're praising the helpful, polite and nice things he does. We're remembering he's still learning his world and trying so hard to be in control of it. This works to a point, but we realized we had let him get the run of the house because he was so easygoing before, and now we're reorganizing to have the household run best for 4 people and meet all their needs equally and in the best way possible. I give Kian control of his things: which toys to play with, which activities to do next, which clothes to wear (if we're staying home, who cares what he wears and picks out?) what foods to eat (from a choice of healthy things) etc. And the things that are not choices, we stop saying "how about...?" or "let's do..." or even putting "...okay?" on the end of it. That signals a choice and if it's not a choice then we can't let him think it is. We will see how that works...

I also know I've been putting a lot of expectations on other people, adults, lately. I'm trying not too but sometimes you think one should know better and do better and just act accordingly. Or even driving, you think another driver should just know to use their turning signal or not cut you off, right?! Or that 10 items or less, really does mean ten or less? We hurt ourselves more by expecting grander things than others can attain, and are more disappointed if we expect too much.  Not to say we shouldn't hold people to standards, but just being aware of limitations and their world in not expecting too much.  I guess in today's world you can't expect or assume anything. That everyone is fighting their own battles and that not everyone can be as smart as me I guess =) I shall be kinder to those less fortunate (and less brilliant) I suppose...  

*please no comments about how horribly mean I am,
that's a bit of sarcasm at the end there people!*

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