Children, grandchildren, almost inevitably disappoint through no fault of their own. When they are young, we jump on the tiniest interest or skill as portending fame and fortune. See how well she draws? Surely she will be a famous artist someday. See how he likes to take things apart? He will be a great inventor. (We are still gender-specific in our thoughts where political incorrectness remains hidden.)
But this is not Lake Woebegone where all children are above average. The reality is they are average and will grow up average, just as we did. We were once convinced we were the best class in the best school in the best country, but we, and our school, were just average (on the high end, of course). We became typical housewives, insurance salesmen, and office managers. We lived in average suburbs, had the average number of divorces, the average number of remarriages. Perhaps our most outstanding classmate turned out to be Ed Hagopian who had many recognized accomplishments and still seems to be an unusually nice guy. No doubt you can suggest others. An average class would expect to have one high achiever.
The problem is that average today is not what it once was. Today, average is unemployment, or, at best, a dead-end service job. Average is living with parents, experimenting with drugs, casual sex, rootless non-commitment. Average is single parenthood, daycare, and latchkey children.
Average today is nothing we would want, nothing we would want for our grandchildren. But there it is. Reality.
Fortunately, sometimes, they surprise us and do better than we would have expected. They turn out better than we ourselves, who, for the most part, are only average. They give us hope.