Presuming competence is not code for – my kid is a genius and capable of super human abilities. (Though some may be, it’s not a given.) One of the things I continue to struggle with is the idea of presuming competence. Often I don’t go far enough and other times I go too far without meaning to. I have made assumptions about my daughter’s ability or inability that are incorrect, or at least have been incorrect in that moment. Whether I expect her to be able to do something that she cannot, or at least cannot do today, but may well be able to do at some point in the future or whether I do not expect her to do something that, it turns out, she is more than capable of, I am treating her as though I know one way or the other. But the truth is, I don’t know and neither do a great many of the people who come into contact with her.
The best thing I know to do is to remain in the moment with an open mind. Easy, right? Yet I don’t think it’s easy at all. I find staying present very, very difficult, which is why in Buddhism they call it a “practice”. It takes practice to stay in the present. It takes practice to remain solidly rooted in this moment without drifting off into some future scenario of what might happen, what should happen, what I want to have happen, what I fear will happen and then all the things I do to control all of that so everything I want will occur the way I want it to, in the time frame I want. I’m exhausted just writing about this!
My daughter continues to astonish and amaze, just as my son does. As both my children mature and come into their own, they do and say things on a daily basis that I find utterly delightful and incredible. But that delight is tempered by expectations. I know this, yet find it extremely difficult to keep my expectations in check. My expectations often cause disappointment. I don’t like feeling disappointed, so I try to turn the volume down on my expectations, but if I keep my expectations in check then am I still presuming competence? I can go around and around with all of this endlessly. The only conclusion I have come to is that I’m not going to always get it right, but I’m going to do my best to stay aware, stay present and open to whatever happens without preconceived ideas of what should or shouldn’t happen and while I’m doing all of that, I’m going to remember to breathe.
Breathing is good.