When we discuss planting seeds in a spring garden, or puppies or four-year olds, we speak in hopeful tones and with an understanding that they come with an inherent room to grow. We know tomatoes don’t grow overnight, puppies don’t train themselves and four-year olds can’t be expected to have good manners like their parents do (uh-huh). Each needs time and tending to become more like they are expected to be and get away with being unable yet to bear fruit, fetch a ball or forgetting to cover their mouths when they sneeze.
But at some point, being fresh, new and young gets old literally and figuratively. The belief that we can’t teach an old dog new tricks begins to set in and that once vast room to grow, overtime, becomes perceptibly smaller then disappears. A mature dog that never learned any tricks doesn’t get snapped up as easily as a week-old pup.
So goes for the tenured teacher, the multi-term politician who won public office through an election (caveat: depends on the party) or the head of an NGO or a company who climbed the proverbial ladder. It makes sense to expect them to be good at what they do. They’ve had some time to grow and room to blossom and have arguably reached a point when they are able to deliver results.
And yet somehow, with parenting, most parents understand that this process is a trial and error one with a lot of heart and hard work. Flawlessness is not expected from our actions and decisions and sympathy is readily shared. I wonder why we’re forgiving of fellow parents and much harder on those who teach students, serve the citizens and lead the workers? Is it because the room to grow is infinitely larger in the parenting arena?
Or is it perhaps worth considering that we must allow others and ourselves equal room to grow as long as we’re trying to do something good?
How do we decide who gains our support and who incurs criticism (or worse, accusation or blame)?
Image by Pink Sherbet Photography