Sunday, October 23, 2011

What Did You Expect?

This weekend I had the chance to visit with my grandson on his first trip home from college.  He is excited about all that is happening, and far more engaged than I was in the four years leading to a degree.  Seems he knew what to expect once he got there, much unlike my own experience, or perhaps yours.

For many of us there may not have been a pattern laid out, for a career or school of choice, and like Merrilee many may have chosen a job immediately after graduating, even if she didn't get her preferred CIA position.  Especially the girls.  What did our parents want them to become?

As a little birdie told me, for most girls the career choices were nurse, secretary, or elementary teacher.  Going to college may or may not have been expected of them, and if a girl did go it was to get some type of training that could be the "insurance policy" in case the man of their dreams, i.e., the husband they would marry, should happen to come to misfortune - or disappear.  Another reason for a girl to go to college was to get the MRS degree, and indeed I ran into some of those, although as an insensitive, non-intuitive, typical male, didn't realize it until some years later.

Brutalizing Wordsworth, the child is the son of the father, so the doctor's son becomes a doctor, the lawyer's son a lawyer, the farmer's son a farmer, the banker's son a banker.  And the daughter?  Well, her mother was a housewife in our world, so what would you expect to happen?  As time has gone by we've certainly and appropriately seen occupational changes for the fairer sex where female doctors, lawyers, and bankers are becoming more prevalent although the latter occupation remains quite paternalistic.  I earned the right to make that judgment after spending about 20 years calling on bankers - and seeing the glass ceiling that exists in that industry.

A Guidance Counselor's Dream!
Not many of the girls in our class had the expectations like the four pictured here - a photo included in an email making the rounds, apparently four young women in military training.  Awesome...  Unless it's a staged photo.

Lacking expectations myself, I should have undertaken the mission of preparing my own offspring, right?  Indeed - and I was all too reluctant to do so.  For reasons that I don't understand but regret today, I was kind of assuming that they would figure it out, didn't want to be dictatorial, and though they didn't have a straightline approach to a career, we did eventually have real discussions about results and happiness.

Now that the grandson is beginning his adulthood I will quietly encourage and watch with pleasure as he succeeds.  At long last I expect it - with little or no causation on my part.

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