Life Design Action: Champion your child’s dreams – hard as it may be
Requires: A sense of seriousness, honesty, an invisible sock to chew
Does not require: Cynicism
Do you remember what you wanted to be as a child? That moment when you were absolutely inspired to reach for a certain dream? The response we got from our parents regarding our dreams were instrumental in our sense of self belief and expansion. When our parents showed belief in us, we experienced a new belief in ourselves. Equally, the responses we offer our own children provide them with a doorway into a world of possibility. Who knows if your child’s dream will sustain, however the gift of self belief will help build a life extraordinary.
He said, “Mum, when I grow up I want to be in a boy band.”
Now, I get that for many parents this probably isn’t head stapling material. Although for many it probably is.
For me, who
a) has friends who work in the music industry and hence witnessed its dark side
b) has intentionally and actively steered my children away from the auditory E-numbers of synthetic Cowell-coated X-Factor entertainment
to hear my son aspire to a future in that industry is equivalent to him saying “I wan’ be a mother-f***in’ hustler” Snoop Dog style.
Except aspiring to boy-bandism feels worse.
I think I’d rather Roo be a hustler.
So, when he made his declaration, there was a very long pause. Eventually, after much swallowing and trouble breathing and reminding myself that believing in our kids dreams helps them build self belief, I manage to mutter the words, “a boy band? What sort of boyband?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugs and looks thoughtfully out of the window. “Actually, I think maybe a rock star would be better?”
“Yep a rock star!” I blurt, slapping hands down on the table in relief. “A rock star would be muchmuchmuch better …”
I then trail off as thoughts of One Direction and screaming twelve year olds kalidascopes into wrinkled Rolling Stones snorting cocaine off the thighs of blank-eyed super models.
Eeek. Start chewing thumb nail, trying to decide whether Cowellism is a safer route for Roo than hardened sex, drugs n rock n roll lifestyle? After all, who wants to see their son staggering about on his fortieth with fewer brain cells than Ozzy Osbourne? A forty year old ex-Take That band member with possible depression and tramlines in his eyebrows would be much more desirable …
Or would it?
Suddenly I realise that none of this fear-driven thinking is very productive.
Also, its not very “walk-your-talky” for a mother who is all about nurturing one’s dreams and goals.
Take a deep breath. Scratch my forehead uncomfortably. Okay. I can do this.
“Look Roo, if you are serious about being in the music industry you’ve got to be sassy. You’ve got to be clever,” I say. “Don’t just go in and think you’re going to be a performer because the music industry is dirty. The performers are just puppets – whilst the record companies pull their strings. If you want to work in that field, you need to be able to write songs. And play instruments. Its the people who are writing the songs who really establish themselves and make a success of it.”
“Songs?” says Roo.
“Songs,” I nod.
“Writing?” repeats Roo.
“Writing. That’s what I said.”
Roo mulls this over. He nods sagely. He then turns on his heel and disappears.
Roo hates writing. That will test his resolve.
Next day I meet Roo in the playground. He tosses his rucksack at me, throws his coat on afterwards, then coolly unfolds a very crumpled piece of paper. On it, in purple felt tip pen is a whole page worth of scrawl. “Mum look. I’ve written my first song.”
Turns out Roo has had a productive day. He’s pulled together a band. He’s named the band (The Howlers) and he’s written the first song. I’m impressed.
“So, er, you going to sing it to me?” I ask as we stroll up the lane to the car.
Roo looks at me in horror. “No way! That’s way too embarrassing.”
Hmm. Singing publicly. Resolve test two.
Next morning we go to Ads’ deli for hot chocolate before school (secret ritual we have when Pix has left for the school bus) and Roo proceeds to show all of his “deli friends” (Neil the photographer, Justin the window cleaner, Sam the hairdresser and Dray the plumber) his song.
“That’s very cool,” says Sam after he’s read the piece. “Its also very violent. I like the bit where it says “fall on the ground and suffer like hell”.
Cough into my hand. “I think he’s been influenced by Michael Jackson’s Thriller.”
Sam nods, impressed, then goes onto explain to Roo that he thinks the song should have a more verses and a chorus needs to be added. Roo looks at him, baffled. Sam explains that songs tend to have choruses, verses and tell a story. Roo then nods sagely again, snatches back his paper and sits down to scribble out some more words.
His hot chocolate goes cold.
“You ready to sing me your song yet?” I ask him as we drive to school.
“No. Not yet. It’s not finished.”
AT THE SANCTUARY
Still haven’t heard The Song, however Roo has taken to studying musicians. He has watched a LOT of MJ music videos on You Tube and declared the Moonwalk easy to master.
“That’s what they all say,” say me and Ads knowingly.
Roo has also watched Rock School with Jack Black. I’m washing up the dishes as he’s glued to the telly. Suddenly it occurs to me how important it is to have passionate, if not slightly obsessively insane teachers, in the subjects we wish to succeed in. Luke warm teachers are dream killers. It then occurs to me that somehow, since Roo’s initial boy-band declaration, I’ve somehow completely bought into his dream!
What am I thinking?
Need to have words with self.
IN THE CAR
I am driving along, listening to someone on the radio talking about those Ucranian feninists who expose their breasts as a way of protest. The woman talking is making me laugh, suggesting that sensational women throughout history obviously used their bodies to make massive change. For example, Bodicea clearly flashed the Romans to get them out of the UK. And Florence Nightingale titillated by tugging up her skirt and showing her cleavage to heal injured solders …
As I’m listening, I become aware of a low droning sound in the back of the car.
Oh my …
Could it be?
I turn the radio down.
OMG, it IS! Roo is finally singing his song and I can hear how it is supposed to sound …
And guess what? It sounds exactly as I imagined an eight year old boy’s song to sound. Muttered, crooning and tuneless.
“Roo, I know who you SOUND LIKE!” I cried. “I know who you need to hear!”
Scrabble in the dashboard (whilst keeping eyes seriously on the road of course) and pulled out a CD. Slam it into the player, speed through the tracks and eventually find Hurricane. “Roo, you ARE Bob Dylan!”
Roo sits quietly for a long time listening to Hurricane. After it is finished, he asks if we can play it again. This time he begins to drone out his words, occasionally barking a few louder ones for good measure.
“That sounds AMAZING Roo!” I congratulate him and we high five before he leaps out of the car and runs down the lane to school.
Since then I have been educating the kids on extreme versions of music every time we get into the car and drive.
There is no cheese.
Anything that mildly smells like Simon Cowell is banned.
Pix n Roo have now heard everything from the Doors to Mozart.
Both have agreed that Bjork is weird.
For Christmas I am going to get Roo a guitar and some lessons. He’s already, off his own back, learnt some chords from his step-granddad. I am going to ask a friend of mine if he can go and look around his music production studio so he can see where the real magic of making music occurs. And I want to find an inspirational teacher for him – someone a bit Jack Black …
And you know, even if Roo totally changes his mind and decides he doesn’t want to be in a boy band or write music or skid around on his knees on stage … it doesn’t really matter.
It is who he becomes in the process of exploring that is the real gold.
By massively believing and encouraging our kids to dream big, to set goals, to explore different angles and to nurture what they want … they learn how to live exceptional lives. The point is that as parents, by encouraging our children’s dreams we help them to GROW.We allow them to expand their minds, expand their experiences and broaden their world. We teach them how to champion their goals and do what is required to achieve them.
And the beautiful bonus?
We might just expand our own worlds in the process.
And also torture our children with songs like this: