Our oldest son came home from school this past week with a copy of the beloved children’s book Where the Wild Things Are in tow. There was a sticky note attached to the book that let us know that our son needed to practice reading it because he would be doing a reading for citizens of a nursing home the following week. My husband and I assumed that this meant he would be reading to an individual. We only found out afterwards that he had in fact read it to the larger group. By wrongly assuming we had all the facts, we had missed out on our child doing his first solo performance. We felt awful! Though admittedly, I was far more disappointed in missing out on seeing how my son did than our son was.
The incident made me think about how I communicate, not only with the teacher at the school, but also with my children and my spouse. I learned an insightful lesson early in my career from my then boss who told me: when you assume you make an *ss out of u (you) and me. It’s all right there in the word itself, making the very concept of assumptions a tricky business. If I’d kept my boss’ golden rule in mind, maybe I would have asked my son the right questions and not missed his performance.
The incident got me thinking about other times I’ve wrongly assumed things. When our children were young for example, I assumed my husband and I would always magically be on the same page, that he would read my mind and automatically know the help I needed. He isn’t a mind reader though and he in turn assumed that if I need help, I would just ask. I also assumed that my efforts to be super-woman: perfect mother, working professional, housecleaner, cook, coordinator, etc—I was making everyone happy. In truth, I was taking too much on and no one was benefitting. When I finally took a closer look at how out of balance everything was, I saw the danger of this assumption.
My husband and I assumed we knew the whole story with the book reading. We should have spoken with the teacher and clarified what our son was participating in. It would have ensured that we didn’t miss out on this special event. I have to admit that it’s disappointing to know I’m still capable of these seemingly obvious mistakes as a mom, but I also realize I’m human, and that there is always the opportunity to grow. I know I’m getting better at avoiding these situations, but realize situations like this will still come up from time to time. It would be wrong to assume anything else.