If you have ever spent more than five minutes with me, you probably know that I think my parents are awesome. Even if they weren’t my parents, I am sure I would hold them in great esteem for the wise and godly lives they lead as individuals and as a couple. Despite having done the whole leave and cleave thing, my parents’ opinions are still extremely important to me, which is okay with Jim because he and my dad are basically twins, separated by twenty odd years and a hairline.
So whenever my parents watch our kids, I like to debrief afterwards to get their insights and advice. (Don’t tell the kids their grandparents are spying on them for us, okay? They just think Gram and Gramps are playing Monopoly with them when in reality they are gathering intel.) My mom usually has something profound to offer on the relational front, a way for us to better connect with one of the kids while my dad, being the ex-farm boy/soldier usually has something to say about structure and discipline. Upon returning from a recent trip, there was my dad, ready to offer a gem regarding expectations. “Before we went anywhere, I would just tell them what my expectations were and they would fulfill them.”
Duh, Dad. Me too. Like before we go into the grocery store I say, “Okay, we are going into the grocery store. I expect you will all behave really badly, except for Bailey who will just wander off, acting as if he doesn’t know who these crazy people are. I expect you to beg for myriad things that aren’t on the list and I am expecting to give in on more than one occasion just to get you to be quiet.” See, Dad. I already knew that one.
Okay, so maybe those weren’t exactly the expectations he was talking about. But it got me to thinking about expectations in general. While all this was swirling around in my head like mashed potatoes in a KitchenAid, I read an article about Paula Deen and the recent announcement that she has Type II Diabetes. People seem to have quickly formed two camps regarding the news. One side seems busy chowing down Twinkies and celebrating her unapologetic enjoyment of life and food while the other side hurls metaphoric multi-grain bagels and denounces her promotion of irresponsible eating habits. I confess to feeling torn between the Twinkies and the Multi-Grains.
Part of me wants to release Miss Paula from the chains of responsibility and ask Common Sense to intervene on her behalf. Are there really individuals out there who are ignorant to the consequences of all the butter and sugarcoated “goodness” she dishes out? Another part of me, however, is frustrated by the hypocrisy that benefits from the popularity of Deen’s unhealthy cooking style and then pleads for sympathy for her condition. Maybe if I really want to wiggle my finger in someone’s face, I would do well to look in the mirror first. After all, we don’t live under a monarchy of celebrity. We “elect” our idols, which means we have the power to dethrone them as well. If we don’t like what they are selling, then all we have to do is stop buying it. While this idea can be as comforting as a Twinkie, it can be a bit unsettling as well when I come to realize that this means it doesn’t just apply to the tight-fitting nature of my favorite blue jeans. If I don’t like the directions public figures are steering things, whose fault is it really? If I, the citizen, continue to buy what they are “selling,” then who is ultimately responsible for the state of things?
Maybe my dad is right, and it’s is all about expectations. Perhaps in instead of pointing my finger in someone else’s face, I should look in the mirror if I want someone to blame.