Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The kids do a Career Walk in the 5th grade where they go to school. They pick a career and then dress up and give a short speech over and over and over throughout the day as people come through the building. Abby did it two years ago, my niece did it last year and this year Sam is doing it.
My son wants to go to Julliard. He has dreams of being an actor. He was told yesterday that being an actor is a "dream job."
When Abby was Sam's age she wanted to be a gymnastics coach. She was told that was a dream job.
My niece said she wanted to run an orphanage. She was told that was a dream job.
Now, I realize that choosing a job for this career walk isn't setting in stone their career paths, nor is it feasible to let all the firemen be firemen and the all the teachers be teachers for this project. Then you'd have a room full of firemen and teachers and the waitresses and business owners would be under-represented. I realize this is a project about jobs and careers and it's for enrichment purposes.
But these kids are ten and eleven years old. They are not in college prep courses. Most of them aren't even standing on the front porch of puberty yet, knock knock knockin' to get in. Most still think the opposite sex is gross and holding hands will give you cooties. But they have dreams. When Sam was little he wanted to be Superman. Guess who wore Superman pajamas every night. My cousin wanted to be a dogcatcher. His mom told him it was a noble profession and bought him a net. Someone told me last night that her brother-in-law wanted to be a police dog. Did his parents tell him it wasn't possible? No, they let him sit under the table and bark when someone came in. Did he grow up to be a police dog? No. But for that brief moment in time he totally thought he could. He thought he could until he realized on his own that he truly could not be a dog. My cousin, a Kindergarten teacher, wrapped a little girl's legs in aluminum foil once because she wanted to be a mermaid. She was a mermaid that day.
Joe Don Rooney, a member of the country group Rascal Flatts, is from Picher, OK. Carrie Underwood is from Checotah, OK. Mickey Mantle hailed from Commerce, OK. Jamie McMurray is a NASCAR driver from Joplin, MO. And J. R. Conrad played for the New York Jets and he is from the town where the kids go to school. My cousin is from Picher, as well, and he has done acting on the History Channel, has done standup at the Gotham Comedy Club and has been on other TV shows. They're all from relatively small towns, but that didn't stop them. These people were kids once and they pursued a dream. They didn't give up on it.
If we tell our kids that they should always aim low, they will. We need to point them toward the sky and tell them, "See that? It's yours. THERE IS NO LIMIT."
When I was a kid I wanted to be a mommy. I was told I was selling myself short. I was told I was wasting myself. I was told that because I was settling for motherhood I would amount to nothing. Why, I was college-bound! I scored a 32 on the English section of my ACT! I made straight A's and had scholarships! WHAT WAS I THINKING??
I see those three kids walk up my driveway every afternoon and my breath catches in my chest. They are amazing, they are wonderful, they are full of limitless opportunities....
They are my dreams come true.
Just got off the phone with the school counselor who apologized profusely for the misunderstanding. He assured me he wasn't a dream basher (although I kind of feel like he was making such a title akin to "kitten mangler") and that he wasn't telling the kids they couldn't achieve their dreams, just that they needed a plan B, a way to put food in their mouths until they hit it big. He said he would stop calling them dream jobs and would make doubly sure the kids understood what he meant. I also assured him that I would be having a talk with my extra-sensitive boy-child who apparently got his feelings hurt wayyyyyy too easily over this. A talk that may very well begin with, "Stop acting like your sister. You know, the sister that cries during Annabelle's Wish and at Kodak commercials just like her mother. Wait. You know what, just stop acting like your mother. Oh and by the way you are going to make a GREAT actor, son."
And let me just take a moment to tell you that a personal phone call from a school employee who calls me by name is just one more reason why I'm glad my kids attend this school. I wigged out, sent an email in pure advocacy for my child and wasn't met with criticism or defensiveness, but instead with an apology and an explanation. Let the above post just remind us all to refrain from kitten mangling - I mean, dream bashing.
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