I am a proud dad of 3 little peeps. Ruby Rose is the eldest, weighing in at 11 years and a few months. Then comes Phoenix, my sensitive boy of 8 and then there is Dakota Lilly (7) who makes most rockstars look mundane.
Each child is a universe unto themselves, being completely different in character and outlook on the world. Yesterday, we were driving to dinner and Ruby informed me that she wants to become a secret agent. She said that the British secret service appealed to her more than working for the CIA, because MI6 just sounded more competent. She told me not to worry if her life looked ordinary, because her undercover job would entail saving the world from terrorists. While I enjoyed this unlimited “I-can-do-anything-approach” the father in me would have preferred hearing that perhaps she was drawn to a more conventional pursuit (like professional base jumping).
Since we were all in the car at the same time, Dakota informed me that she wanted to re-create the genome for dinosaurs and start her own Jurassic Park. — What’s not to love about that answer? As a father, I was quite satisfied with this answer, because we all know that T-Rex ain’t coming back, (although anyone who spends 5 minutes in her presence, will walk away wondering if the age of dinosaurs is really as over as they say it is…)
Phoenix informed me that he wanted to be a paleontologist. When asked if he really wanted to spend his days scratching for fossils in the dirt, his eyes lit up to the affirmative. Bugs and dirt — makes sense, and it is safe. (Thanks my boy)
On my way home, I reflected on their answers and got to wondering what it is about our society that seeks to define a person by their occupation. Is “So what do you do?” not one of the go-to questions you receive when meeting someone at a social event… I am asked this question often and I don’t really like answering this. It’s not that I am working on something unsavoury. (No, I will not be chased down by Ruby Rose for gun running in the Ukraine.) I just question being pigeon holed into representing a certain type.
The conundrum that one faces as a parent, is that I don’t think our children should seek to define themselves by the occupations that they are assigned to becoming. These precious little souls come into the world and as adults, and our system wants to take them by the scruff and put them into a box and close it. After that, their identities are related to in terms of that which they are, accountants, doctors, lawyers etc…
I tell my kids that they can be anything that they want to be. There is a caveat… — What if what they want to be, does not exist in a conventional way? As a parent, you don’t want to thwart the imaginative ramblings of a little person. Society is full of dream killers and I for one don’t want my 3 little souls to be told that they need to be realistic, that they need to get a safe job, so that they can make the payments on their mortgage and qualify for car finance. So how do you merge reality with your dreams and keep the sparkles?
I told my kids this:
“Be curious every day. Allow yourself to ask questions and investigate for yourself…. Get exited!!! If you keep doing this, your creative guardian angels will smile with you and place little nuggets of wonder in your path. If you take note of these little clues, you will walk down a path and hear their whispers of destiny…. Don’t worry if there is no official job for what you want to do. If your pockets are filled with enough of these nuggets, people will want you around them. You will be able to ad value to their lives and then you will be able to command a price for the value that you bring. Then do more of that, so you can leverage your gifts, your contributions to the world. “
So, dear fellow parents, the next time you ask your kids what they want to be, please just bear in mind that they may be dreaming up fantastic visions of lives, lived like Rock stars, or secret agents or bug collectors. Don’t be the jaded voice of reason, just because that is what you experienced when you were small. Fan their fires of wonder with encouragement and give them the confidence to create their own calling. Leave them to think outside of the boxes that society wants to force them into, and you may just be gifting them with lives of never ending wonder!
Thank you — Thorsten