Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Perchance to dream

Not long ago, Lottie's school celebrated something called The Week of the Young Child.  (My cynical thought was that EVERY week is the week of the young child, is it not?)  During one of the days, she had to dress up as the profession she wants to pursue as an adult.  Lottie picked to dress like a princess, and I wouldn't let her.  Ouch.

Let me rewind a bit by saying that I didn't say no because I hate pink or princesses or stereotypical girlie things.  I revel in being a girlie-girl, and I have no issue with Lottie loving it as well.  She has oodles of frothy and frilly dress-up clothes, she loves to borrow my jewelry, and playing with makeup is one of the highlights of her week.  But she also loves to go outside and get filthy dirty, climb trees, roughhouse, and play anything related to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She's a pretty balanced kid, and I think that's fantastic.  If she chose to wear fuchsia and glitter and lace every day for the rest of her life, I would be happy if it made her happy.

But when she told me she wanted dress like a princess for first grade career day, for some reason I told her she couldn't.  I went off on a bit of a rant about it wasn't realistic for her to want to be a princess when she grew up and she needed to give her outfit a little more thought.  We finally agreed on her future career as a rock star, and we picked her ensemble out together.  As I left her bedroom that night, she said in her little chipmunk voice, "I can't believe my own mother doesn't even believe in my dreams."  Serious ouch.

I laughed off the comment at the moment, but the next day, I started to feel squinky about my decision. Lottie happily bopped off to school dressed as the next Katy Perry, but I still felt uncomfortable about the fact that I had said no to her growing up to be Princess Charlotte.  Logically, I guess it's an unrealistic dream for her, but not all dreams are logical choices.  The bigger the dream, the more likely it is that people will try to squash it.  Steven Spielberg dropped out of high school and was later denied admittance to a traditional film making school.  I'd say that worked out pretty well for him.  Twila Tharp was rejected time after time by dance companies until she decided to open her own troupe.  100 choreographed shows later, she proved her naysayers wrong.  Grace Kelly didn't get into Bennington College due to her low math scores, so she pursued her dream to act and became quite good at it.  And, oh yeah, she also became a PRINCESS.  Kate Middleton, anyone?   Walt Disney created an empire because he dreamed of creating ways to entertain families.  Thomas Edison dreamed of a brighter future, and he made it happen.

I slowly realized that no matter what my kids dream about doing, one of my jobs is to support them.  I don't know where those dreams will go or how they will end up.  I don't know everything that my kids are capable of achieving, but I have great hopes.  They're going to run into disappointments and roadblocks in life, no matter what their goals are, but the key is learning how to deal with what might stand in their way.  So instead of constantly telling them what they can't do, I think I need to start showing them what they can do and going from there.  Maybe Lottie will never be a real princess when she grows up, but that's ultimately for her to figure out on her own, not for me to crush.  I hope she doesn't ever lose her starry-eyed "what ifs" because if she does, that's when I have truly failed.

Credit: http://quotes.wishbowl.org