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Great Expectations

by Vidya Sury July 18, 2012 38 comments
Great Expectations

One of our favorite conversations at home is related to how our success or failure is directly proportional to the effort we put in. Great expectations, always. Before he goes to bed, he says his prayers and if there is a test the next day, I wish him all the best and tell him he is going to do very well. He’s one of those “pressure-from-within” types and I have to confess that I’ve often felt guilty about not being all over him like most other parents. I don’t nag, either. But I never said we were normal…so there.

Right now, they have their first term tests going on, with a test every Monday. This Monday, it was Science. On the way back from school, I asked him how it went and he said it was okay. Now, from experience I know that “okay” means he’s missed a mark or two. And he’s not happy. That’s a ha-ha to me, but to him, it matters a great deal. So I prodded, asking “why just okay?” Then he said that their teacher went over the question paper with the whole class after the exam and he figured that he’d lose three marks. I asked him if it was because he didn’t study it. That made him indignant – I knew it would. I was only teasing him.

For Vidur, the aim is always 100%. That’s what we’ve always taught him. No, no pressure about being “best” but how aiming for 100%, puts the effort at100%. We’ve also assured him that it is quite okay to lose a couple of marks, unsuccessfully. Anyway, the lad always feels miserable and sulks over the lost marks. To me, 95% looks great. But what do I know? Vidur expects nothing less than 100%. He scores it too, most of the time.

So I was telling him that it simply indicates that he CAN. It is nice to have that pressure from within (I work that way too!) but at the same time, there’s no point getting so worked up about it. Have to move on, you see. Of course, I did continue to tease him about it – but stopped when it did not go too well. So, the next resort was being philosophical.

We have the ability to cope

In life, each one of us is blessed with the ability to cope with the challenges that are thrown at us. To some extent success is in our hands. How are we maximizing our chances of success or survival and minimizing the chances of feeling disappointed? There are so many likely situations that have the potential of hurting us through life. Whether we will be strong enough to take up the challenge of coping with it – and also come out stronger via the experience – depends on our actions and our emotions. How can we strengthen these so that we come out stronger from those difficult situations? And rise above it all?

Think laterally 

As far as our actions are concerned, I have found that it is necessary to think laterally – a line of thought that is very out of the box, yet effective enough to adequately deal with the situation. Another cool method is – being cool and calm, and doing a T chart – pros on one side, cons on the other. Sometimes we don’t have enough time to make the right decisions. On top of this, it is also important to be good at time-management and systematic thinking. Weigh the pros and cons for different courses of action. Also remember past experiences to avoid making the same mistakes. For me gut feeling and intuition count, but you decide what works best for you.

Get a grip on your emotions 

Handling those emotions well is a very important aspect of coping with a situation. But that does not mean letting negative emotions cloud our thinking. Beware of suppressed emotions – emotional baggage – that can drag you down. It is important to have a good relationship with one’s own emotions – so some introspection and some reassessment can help develop a better point of view. Writing a diary or journal can help with this.

Great Expectations are okay!

Once we get a grip on our actions and emotions, we can actually hope to get what we expect. Like I was irrelevantly telling Vidur, when exams are around the corner, some people just go pray to God and expect their prayers to be answered with good grades – without realizing that it is necessary to study, too. God only helps those who help themselves. And once you’ve helped yourself and done your bit, your coping skills become strong, because then you have the ability to see where you went wrong, and how you can improve.

It works.

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Harleena Singh July 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Wonderful post Vidya!Ah…I can well relate to what Vidur must be going through, as it happens with my elder one too. She is never really satisfied with anything less than 100%, which I think is a problem in itself. Her competition is with her own self more than anyone else. We keep telling her that we are happy even if she gets 90% or less and marks really don’t matter, but kids like these just want to keep at it till they achieve success. To some extent this is good, when you compare other kids who don’t really take to studies and have their parents running after them for doing so.But yes, just as you mentioned, we need to encourage our kids and assure them that they will cope up well and everything will be alright as there’s always another time. Yes, think laterally and get a grip of yourself because God helps those who help themselves. If you are hard working and struggling to reach there – nothing can stop you – it’s just a matter of time.Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:34 am

Thanks, Harleena. I guess competition is also pretty high these days, and peer pressure builds up whether we like it or not. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Galen Pearl July 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I always told my kids I expected them to do their best. I never paid attention to the particular grades. If my daughter who struggles in math did her very best (that means doing her homework, asking the teacher for help, getting tutoring if needed, doing extra credit work) and got a C on a test, then that was a C we were proud of. If, on the other hand, she waited till the last minute to do a paper and got an A-, I reminded her that this was not her best effort and she could have done better.

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:37 am

You’re absolutely right, Galen. I encourage Vidur to be consistent and enjoy the process of learning. But it is quite hard to compete with school pressure. As a parent, and also someone who has gone through the process myself, I am a little laid back – and do what I call “hand in hand parenting”. I don’t believe in pushing. Sometimes I get worried about the tension he puts himself through. Then again, I am grateful for his hobbies, no.1 is music. So – the balance is always hovering 😀

Cathy | Treatment Talk July 18, 2012 at 6:19 pm

That work ethic does come from within. One of my sons was very driven all through school and likes yours, was not happy when his grades were less than the best. This is a wonderful quality as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. I remember having to tell him to stop studying sometimes, which sounds unusual, because it was so late, and he needed to go to bed. People with internal drive usually do well in life, because they go after what they want and do not let small setbacks stop them from reaching their goals.

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:39 am

Yes, Cathy, I hope my son doesn’t overdo it either. I get a little mad to see him at his homework, past his bedtime sometimes. Oh, we’ve tried talking to the school about minimizing mindless homework – but it will be a while before they actually do something about it. 🙂 Internal drive is great – but when the effort is sometimes geared towards mundane must’do’s…one has to take a step back. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Unknown Mami July 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm

I tweeted. My mother never nagged me about school (she did nag about other things), which is good because there is no way she could have ever expected more of me than I did.

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:41 am

🙂 Thank you, Claudya. Hugs! I very much appreciate it! My Mom, for that matter never pushed me where academics were concerned, as grades came to me fairly effortlessly. But there’s so much more to life than good grades, as I learned 😀 One thing she always did was encourage me, making me believe everything is possible. 😀

Keetha Broyles July 19, 2012 at 12:32 am

I had a few students like Vidur who tried their hardest all the time. Then again I had far more who willingly settled for far less than their capability.

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:42 am

Hi Keetha! My Mom was a teacher for over 40 years – and she would always be fascinated by the attitude and behavior of the children she saw, year after year. And she has said what you said several times. Trying hard, in most cases is good. But settling for less, is sometimes a crime, no?

Evelyn Lim July 19, 2012 at 6:06 am

You are an amazing mother! I hardly meet any parents nowadays who do not confess to doing some “nagging” due to pressure from the environment. It’s great that Vidur is self-motivated. He is so blessed to have a mother who can help him manage his expectations and emotions.

Also, thank you for your kind comments about my program. It’s awesome that you like it! I hope that your son has a great time making his vision board. It will be lovely if you can post a picture of it on your site when it is completed 🙂

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:43 am

I try, Evelyn, to be as good to him, as my own Mother was to me, in spite of all the hardships we faced. I learned some very good lessons from her.

Once Vidur is finished with his board, I’ll definitely email it to you 🙂 and put it up here.

Terri Sonoda July 19, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I think a little heartfelt nagging is okay by a Mom, as long as it doesn’t turn negative in any sense. I understand Vidur’s (and yours!) aim for 100% as I’m afflicted with the same issue. However, I’ve failed my goals more times than not, unlike Vidur. But? I get back up and try again. That’s pretty much what I “preached” to my sons while I was also singing the praises of education. Just do your best, and what you don’t get right, learn from. And try again. Excellent post, Vidya! HUGS!

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:51 am

Ah, I do nag a little, Terri – but not in the serious way. Also, I try not to sound like am being a pain. My Mum always did that. Always loving, gets things done. I agree what you say about doing one’s best. Nothing less. And it is fine not to get things right. You, am sure, are a great Mom! Hugs! I can only imagine what fun you must have been with your boys!

Vishnu July 19, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I think to want to strive for 100% is a great thing in life and school and work – it seems like Vidur is committed to doing his best (great values from his parents I’m sure:)

But he shouldn’t be too hard on himself and realize that life doesn’t give you anything more, for being perfect:) In fact, learning, growth and overcoming challenges happen only because we lose points, don’t do things perfectly or slip up every now and then.

Wanting to do your best is a good habit to have and kudos to Vidur!

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:53 am

Vishnu, you have a very good point. But certain things, you know, come only through experience. And as far as I am concerned, learning a few things the hard way is quite alright 🙂 With mentally strong people, it is a little difficult to convince them with words. They just wanna go through it. Vidur will learn 😀 Thank you for your words of wisdom. You’re well-grounded.

Bill Dorman July 19, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Getting a grip on your emotions and keeping things in perspective helps tremendously when faced with stressful situations. I’ve stated it before, but there are a very few things that are REALLY important, and everything else you can just throw in a box and let them run their course.

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:55 am

Golden words, Bill. Sometimes, we know we’re scr*wing up, yet we just go ahead and do those things, for fear that not doing so would make things worse. It takes years of experiencing things through life before understanding what’s important and what’s not. Some of us are lucky to recognize and realize. Thank you!

Elle July 19, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I think you’re a wonderful Mum Vidya. Your love and joy in Vidur shine through in everything you write about him. He’s a lucky boy, obviously with a love filled life.


Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:55 am

Elle, I am crazy about that kid. I am often amazed to realized there was actually life before Vidur 😀

Carolyn Hughes July 19, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I loved the way you wrote this post Vidya. As I read it I felt like I was almost in the room with the both of you! Teaching our children how to deal with pressures from outside and within can be difficult but Vidur is so fortunate to have a caring, understanding and wise mother!

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:59 am

🙂 Thank you, Carolyn! I was lucky to have a wonderful Mom – and I do believe our children are our friends 😀 Much easier to relate.

Barbara July 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

This is a lovely post, Vidya, what a great mother you are! And Vidur is so focused and self-motivated. My daughter did well at school when she was interested and well, you guess the rest! But she has turned into a beautiful young woman inside and outside, caring and respectful and mature beyond her years.

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 7:45 am

Barbara, hugs! 😀 That she turned out good and caring is all that matters. Doesn’t that feel very good? I aim for that, too. To nurture a kind, loving, happy, healthy and emotionally strong individual with a positive attitude. 😀

Rahul Bhatia July 20, 2012 at 5:16 am

Agree that parents have great expectations but being realistic is what helps most, Vidya!

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 8:12 am

I approach life with a large does of realism, Rahul. You’re right. I only believe in encouraging Vidur about whatever he’s passionate. Half of success is from the happiness of doing what we enjoy most. Unfortunately, school kids are weighed down by the burden of homework, often mindless. They can’t bunk it for fear of losing grades. I always tell him not to feel pressurized. 🙂

My Inner Chick July 20, 2012 at 6:21 am

you are so utterly giving and loving. Vidur must adore you!

Thank You for teaching us w/ your beautiful wisdom.

Are you sure you do not live on a mountain top someplace in India? Xxxxx


Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 8:15 am

I do, Kim….in a sense. 😀 My apartment building is called “Everest” 😀

By the way, I think I must have told Vidur sometime about you being a fan of Sylvia Plath. When I first read, on your blog, that she was your favorite, I must have been googling her name – and when Vidur asked me who that was, I told him you mentioned her on your blog. This was a while ago. Now, yesterday, I asked him what he was working on – and he said, “your friend’s favorite author’s poem”. I didn’t understand. Then he said “Sylvia Plath” I was stunned – that he would remember. 😀

Jodi Chapman July 20, 2012 at 5:15 am

You’re such a great mom, Vidya. Your love for Vidur is so transparent, and I’m sure he loves you just as much! 🙂 Thank you so much for linking to my post on Dan’s blog. What a sweet surprise!

Vidya Sury July 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

Yes, Jodi, we love each other very much. 🙂 And that makes life so joyous.

I loved your post!

Stephen Martin July 21, 2012 at 2:28 am

Vidya — well done, enjoying your blog. The older I get, the more I believe it is important NOT to do your best at all times. It’s simply too exhausting and not everything is worth 100 percent of our effort. There needs to be some prioritization. When I’m cleaning up the yard, for example, I give it about 60 percent because that’s all it’s worth to me. Writing a blog post, now that gets 100 percent. Will probably wait, though, till my kids are older before trying to explain this philosophy! It can be dangerous if interpreted incorrectly.

Vidya Sury July 21, 2012 at 8:25 am

Welcome, Stephen! Thanks for your comment. You are right. Perfectionism pays no dividends 😀 And setting priorities is very important, as I have realized. I used to be quite OCD-esque about many things…getting them just right, no matter how trivial. Life is a good teacher 🙂

I too worry about saying some things, for fear of misinterpretation. I appreciate your input!

Jack July 21, 2012 at 7:11 am

It is hard to find that balance but so important. I can relate to how you described Vidur. There is this inner voice that never shuts up, unless I make him.

That internal chatter can be quite tedious and sometimes the stress that comes with it is destructive and not instructive.

Sounds to me like you know precisely how to help Vidur navigate these challenges.

Vidya Sury July 21, 2012 at 8:29 am

🙂 Oh, Jack, what a wonderful thing to say. Sometimes, it is difficult to know the right approach, and then I think of my own growing up.

I’ve realized that sometimes – Vidur himself presents the answers, if I am alert to sensing them. Quite like this: when he’s doing his homework, if he has a math problem he has a difficulty with, and Sury is not around, he asks me.

Of course, as smart as I like to consider myself, my 10th grade math has been displaced to some far off corner of my subconsciousness. But I’d hate to admit that. What I do is read the problem slowly, loudly – split it into small questions, and ask Vidur. 🙂 He sees it with new eyes, and before I know it, he’s solving it and explaining it to me. Mission accomplished with a gentle nudge. Most of the time. 🙂 Thank you. I like seeing you here.

Fran Sorin July 22, 2012 at 10:16 am

Vidya….I’m laughing. Whenever we came back with our test grades, my father’s favorite line was ‘where’s the other … percent?’ It didn’t matter if we got a 97 or 92, it was always the same.

Beyond your great parenting skills, it sounds like Vidur is self motivated with high expectations. That’s a great combination of character traits for being able to navigate throughout this world

Vidur is lucky to have such a caring, loving Mom…xxoo-Fran

Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Thank you so much, Fran.

😀 My uncle used to tease me about the couple of marks lost, even if I got the highest marks. I believe he was getting me to do better 😀

I am really lucky Vidur is self-motivated. And I feel guilty I don’t nag him as much as the other Grade 10 parents do. Not really 😀 Kidding!

Hiten July 22, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Hi Vidya,

Firstly, I wanted to say that Vidur sounds like a real smart boy. You must be very proud.

Like you explained to him, I agree we need to get a grip on our emotions to cope with what happens in life. I’ve found the developing the ability to understand our emotions and appreciate where they are coming from and what is happening to us, when we experience them, gives us the ability to stay calm and peaceful in times when we need to the most.

I really enjoyed your post and thank you for writing.

Vidya Sury August 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Thank you so much Hiten! What a lovely comment. Yes, I am secretly proud of my boy. He is a bit of a softie and sensitive. But I am glad to say he’s growing up nicely grounded.

Thanks again!


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