Monday, January 30, 2012

Hopes and Dreams

The other day I met with someone who can be vaguely placed in the category of "children's education professional." During the course of the conversation this person asked me, "What are your hopes and dreams for your daughter?"

It was the variety of question that made me bite my tongue. Bite my tongue hard!

The possible responses that I forced myself not to say were, "We're hoping she'll be crowned Homecoming Queen and then maybe marry a nice banker," or "We dream of her winning the Nobel prize," or "If the kid doesn't get into Princeton, that's it! She's dead to us."

Seriously, what kind of question is that?

If you were to ask me about my own hopes and dreams I could describe them to you, in more detail than you would want to hear. I'm me and I have a pretty good grasp on what's important to me. As for my children, they are not me. Although I love them desperately and too much, I recognize the physical barrier. We are not the same person. They are distinct people, becoming more so every day, with their own ideas, goals, dreams and viewpoints.

I suppose my response to this breed of question is not so much a response to the question, as to the underlying ick factor. To me, it seems like an invitation to aggrandize the little people who will live in my house for the next ten or eleven years. It invites me to live vicariously through them, burdening them with all "my hopes and dreams."

That's not the kind of parent I want to be. That's not the kind of person I want to be.

As for Child #1, she is her own person with her own set of hopes and dreams. Right now she's hoping and dreaming of becoming the next Coco Chanel. Who am I to stand in her way? Quite frankly, anyone who gets in her way risks being mowed over by the ocean freighter that is my daughter's determination.

As for my hopes and dreams for her, here they are:

I hope she grows up to be happy and fulfilled without becoming a burden to society. Anything more and I risk my own ideals of what it means to be a parent. Anything less and I haven't done my job.


Sarah Tokeley said...

I totally agree. Beyond wanting health and happiness for our children, the rest is up to them.

Beylit said...

I think those are excellent hopes for your children.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd think the best answer is that you hope your children pursue their dreams.

Jenny S. Morris said...

What a weird question. I mean I guess I see the reason they may have asked, but weird. My hopes for my children are the same, although I can't help watch them play the guitar and hope for a musician or watch them write and think, hmm. But it is all them. I just have to there to support and encourage.

Anonymous said...

You have to find that balance of what you can and should do and when to step away. Kids dreams come and go. I had so many until I settled into being a writer. I thought I would be an artist all along.

Johanna Garth said...

Thanks Sarah and Beylit

Alex, you're right! Totally should have said that.

Jenny, it's hard not to fantasize but I try not to put those things into words.

Stephen, exactly! I think we all take a circuitous path to figure out where we need to be.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Those are very realistic hopes and dreams. I think that there is no one that truly wants to be a burden to society. But the more time that passes, the lower that bar seems to be. Not necessarily making a critique of our society but ppl seem to have less and less a tolerance for things that are not perfect.

Angela Cothran said...

Maybe the "child care professional" should have asked your kido this question. I think kids should find there own bliss :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

That question IS kind of icky! Besides "health, happiness, and success" -- what kind of hopes and dreams are you SUPPOSED to have for your children?

Um .. I hope and dream of the day when they pick the damp towels off the bathroom floor and hang them on the towel bar ...???

Honestly, I probably would have stared blankly with my mouth hanging open. I'm not supposed to pick their hopes and dreams.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

After being a foster parent for several year, not being a burden on society really hits home for me. Saw too many people (not the kids) just looking for a handout. No wonder our taxes are so high.

Tonja said...

I think it's great to recognize that kids are individuals. That is an odd question.

Scarlett said...

I think the generation we fall into often translates what *good* parenting is supposed to look like. My mother's parents wanted her to grow up a good Catholic, find a decent man, and keep a clean house (in that order).

*My* mother, the baby boomer, wanted my brother and me to grow up happy in whatever we did in life (kind of too busy, I think, taking care of two kids on her own to worry over the details... and, well yes, to keep a clean house).

*I*, on the other hand, could care less whether our kids keep a clean house, as long as they follow their dreams, whatever those dreams may be, and choose to partner with a Life, and perhaps a Love, that shares that dream.

We, the next generation, are often simply trying to improve on how our parents did it, by allowing our children what we, ourselves, felt we didn't have.

God Bless the parent who has the emotional stamina to Just Let Their Offspring Figure It Out On Their Own... Like we all do, eventually.

Love! this post, Johanna!

Johanna Garth said...

Michael, unfortunately I think that's true too.

Angela, that seems like it would have made more sense!

L. Diane, thanks, that's such an interesting perspective.

Tonja, I agree but I think many people forget they are.

Scarlett, thanks so much for this comment. I would love to be raising generation Offspring Figure It Out On Their Own!!

PK HREZO said...

You have realistic dreams for them. Personally, as long as my kids are true to themselves and do their best, I can't ask for anything more.