When my son was three, he wanted to be a firefighter.
Every day for a full year, he wore his rubber fire boots. Everywhere — the park, the gym, school, and on playdates. He’d be in a fire hat and tall boots. He went through five pairs that year. They’d get holes and we’d buy him yet another pair — even though his feet stunk and they sweated almost constantly and his little legs got welts on them from the rubber rubbing against them in the summer.
It was his dream. We had to support it.
An adorable Reddit thread delves into the dreams of preschoolers, stemming from a photo of kids holding up slate boards that list their future hopeful occupations. Their dreams run the gamut. One wants to be a hunter, another a garbage man. One girl wants to be a kitty cat.
As adults we can look at these and chuckle. We know she won’t become a cat. But she believes it. Could anything possibly be sweeter?
Four is the age of magic. It’s the age when little girls (and boys!) can go to the mall dressed in a tiara and a princess dress and really believe they will someday go to a ball, meet a prince, and live in a castle. Why not?
We all know the truth. It comes for all of us.
For me, it came when I was about 8 and realized that my dream of working in a grocery store was not quite conducive to the life I have planned. Every Sunday morning, my family and I would traipse to the independent store full of great cuts of meat and an amazing bakery to do our shopping.
We would eat breakfast in their diner, check out the miniature replica of a village that ran through the center of the store, munch on donut samples, and admire the pink and white checked gingham dresses all the female employees got to wear. It was pretty much heaven to a 4-year-old and I my greatest dream was to work there, too. But of course, 4-year-old dreams don’t always materialize. I am a professional writer now. No gingham in sight.
Before I became a writer, I wanted to be an airline hostess, a model, a veterinarian, a mommy, and a ballerina. Writing has nothing in common with any of those things, but my parents always allowed me to dream and eventually I landed on the right one.
My son no longer wears fireman boots everyday. Last I heard he wanted to be the president of the United States and also make medicine with daddy (my husband works in pharmaceuticals). My guess is neither will happen. But maybe I’m wrong.
Just in case, we let him take public speaking classes and accompany daddy to work every once in a while. We let him explore and see where that passion really leads. It’s our job as parents. If he wanted to be a kitty cat, we’d find him some ears. We’d paint whiskers on his cheeks and we’d compliment his tail. Because that’s our job as parents.
Let them enjoy imagining something different for themselves. Reality will come soon enough.