Sometimes we need to let go of expectations and see what happens.
Teaching Puppetry in various forms at Epoch Arts Homeschool Co-op has taught me a lot about expectations. Sometimes expectations are a good thing. Sometimes they can hinder creativity and growth.
I have high expectations for my students. I expect them to treat each other with respect, to support each other, and to work together. I also expect them to think for themselves and to be able to work on their own when needed. I expect them to listen, to hear, to respond, and to remember. I also expect that they will make mistakes, have bad days, and have just as much grace for themselves during these times as I do for them.
Many parents find it interesting that I "get" their children to do things they wouldn't normally do. I've found that letting the children know that I expect them to participate in class as fully as possible, but that they have the option of doing something different leads to beautiful things. I expect them to bow out of the crazy theater games we play or ask for a smaller part in or do tech for a performance if that's what the feel they need to do. When they find that stepping out of the exercise is met with me enjoying their company while watching their seven other classmates try not to fall off of a little paper "island" into imaginary water, they are more apt to give the game a try the next time. Why? Because they know I expect them to enjoy themselves, without pressure to do everything I suggest. One of these children participated the second time around despite not liking to be touched ... and hung onto a classmate as if his life depended on it ...and laughed through it... and exclaimed to me at the end that he actually did it, even though he didn't think he could. Without any expectation from me other than to have fun looming over him, he was able to try without feeling trapped by needing to complete the activity.
I also have let go of some expectations. I do not expect that a child, no matter their abilities, cannot do any particular thing. I expect that they will do things to the best of their ability and in their own way. I do not expect all students to learn at the same pace or in the same way. I do not expect them to act, or make their puppets act, exactly as I imagine, as their imaginations are usually vastly better than mine. I don't expect that any rehearsal or performance is going to go perfectly - ever. And I let them know that. Sometimes mistakes are merely, as Bob Ross would put it, "happy accidents" that lend more flavor to the performance. I don't expect these amazing children to fit into any specific mold or to be anything more or less than their own unique selves.
So why, then, do I have so many expectations for myself? Why do I often feel that I'm not enough, don't accomplish enough, don't do things well enough or right enough or good enough?
I'm going to take time this week to pay attention to the perhaps too strict expectations I have for myself and give myself the same grace that I give to my students. And I'm going to do the same for others in my life for whom I may have too many or too specific expectations.
Today, I intend to let go of expectations and embrace the happy accidents and whimsy that comes along with freeing oneself from a singular idea of what is supposed to be.