My kids’ school had Career Day recently. That day, the kids were allowed to “dress for success”, which meant no jeans, sports uniforms or the like—only business suits or dresses. You know, “successful” dressing—otherwise, wear the school uniform. Interesting, especially considering that I never saw one of the most successful men of our time in anything but jeans and a black shirt. How did he ever accomplish anything of value in such clothing?
I understand the point. I do. But for people who claim to want kids to be individuals who follow their dreams, the powers that be almost always insist on these kids being completely alike and having only acceptable dreams to aspire to, i.e. doctor, lawyer, CPA, computer tech, etc.
When asked what they want to be when they grow up, my daughter answered that she wants to be an actress. A perfectly acceptable answer from a 10-year-old girl. But not. According to my daughter, she was basically told it wasn’t going to happen. She also said a boy in her class wanted to be a football player. But again, that possibility was met with discouraging words. Thankfully, this came from a substitute teacher and not their actual teacher, whose words would have carried more weight.
Granted, the odds of becoming a well-known actress (which isn’t what she said—there are many ways to have an acting career) or a star football player are low, but how does anyone get there without first having a dream in his or her heart? Why should we discourage this? They’ll find out soon enough if it’s just a pipe dream or they’ll work even harder to prove it isn’t. The pursuits they dream about require hard work and talent and commitment and perseverance. Successful entertainers and athletes don’t get where they are overnight or by a fluke.
What if Michael Jordan had listened to the naysayers that said he couldn’t make it? or Peyton Manning? or Gabby Douglas? or Jennifer Lawrence? or Diana Nyad? And no, Neil Armstrong, nobody walks on the moon.
What the sub didn’t know about my daughter and her dream is that she already acts and gets paid for it. So far, she’s been in a couple of commercials and worked on a couple of TV shows, she’s even done voiceover work. So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that she could follow that path. Will she always want to do that kind of work? Who knows? She’s 10.
Quite frankly it doesn’t matter that she’s already working. Kids dream. Let them be kids whose answers don’t fit into some rigorous academic mold and who don’t spew out the all-important STEM-related careers that are the correct answers to give these days. I am not saying at all that kids should not aspire to those things, but let them find their bent, their path, their dreams. They will have plenty of time as an adult to have their dreams crushed by others and life itself. For now, let them dream dreams and see a world where nothing is impossible. They’re kids for such a short time.
Seeing my daughter’s frustration with the sub teacher’s response, I dared her to tell the next person who asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up that she plans to be a stay-at-home mom. If you really want to see heads spin and foaming at the mouth, that is the answer to give. Drive them crazy on purpose. That made her smile, and I can’t wait to hear what happens if she ever gets her nerve up to say that.
In my life, my health was usually my dream crusher and got in the way of some things I may have otherwise focused on. However, my biggest dream ever was to become a mom, but I had always been told that I should not, could not have children. To add insult to injury, we would not have been able to adopt, because we simply didn’t have the money to do so. I had convinced myself it wasn’t important to me if I didn’t have children. It just didn’t matter. But once the dream became even the teeny-tiniest of possibilities, I could not walk away from it. I could not stop trying to be a mom until I had that little baby in my arms. Take that medical dream crushers.
So don’t douse my dreams, because I am someone who needs to see big possibilities. I have lived in a body that has tried a few times to overthrow me. Thankfully, so far it has not been successful. But I think in large part because of those health issues, I have used hopes and dreams, no matter how silly or outlandish, to keep going because it gave me something good to focus on. In the same way, our kids need good, fun things to focus on when they live in a world such as ours.
I hope I don’t ever become the dream crusher for my kids. I hope as I attempt to give practical advice and direction, I also allow for big possibilities in their lives and encourage them to dream big and follow God’s prodding and gifting.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13