As the mother of three children, I often find myself in awe of the incredible insight that can come from conversations with them. There are times when I realize that it’s quite possible that the few minutes we’re chatting over getting dinner in the oven or buckling seatbelts might just be one of those moments they’ll remember forever.
One particular conversation I had the other day with my 8-year-old, really caused me to reflect on the messages we receive as children (or, frankly, throughout our lives). The messages, positive or negative, that get stuck in our brains and keep coming up over and over again. The voices that tell us what to do and not do…what’s okay and what isn’t.
Our conversation went like this:
Him: Mom, I don’t know if I want to be an actor or an architect and engineer when I grow up.
Me: Well, you can be both. You don’t really have to choose between the two.
Him: Ya’ that’s right! You can change your mind about what you want to be as much as you like.
Me: That’s right.
Him: So maybe I’ll be an actor and when I get tired of that I’ll become and architect and engineer.
Me: Sounds good. What if someone tells you, “Hey, you can’t do that!”
Him: Then I’ll say, “Yes I can!”
Me: What if they tell you, “Acting isn’t a good career!”
Him: Then I’ll just say, “I like it!”
Me: And if they say, “But you won’t make any money!”
Him: I don’t care. It’s what I like.
So, there will come a point in his life when he realizes that maybe all this isn’t 100% as simple as he thinks. Life can be a series of trade-offs and sometimes we really do find ourselves having to make difficult decisions about what will work best for our families and ourselves. And, of course, he’s only eight so he might decide next week he wants to be a something else entirely.
But, my hope for him is that he looks back on this and remembers a few key words – choice (I’m free to choose and the choice is mine and mine alone…to make and to own), like (I should do what I like, what I enjoy and what makes me happy) and, I hope, love (because, of course, his Mama will always, always love him to matter what road he ends up on).
I can’t predict his future, but I can maximize that from these handful of random conversations he gets only the very best take-aways.