Of hopes and dreams

Yesterday I read 2 dads blog about their daughters.  @MrWejr said his world changed a year ago. @damonayoung used Nietzsche’s view of happiness to frame his view of his 3-yr old (yes, Damon is a philosopher so that’s not so surprising.  What surprised me personally is that I never would have used Nietzsche on the same line as happiness…which is why I’m not a philosopher).  The love both dads have for their daughters are apparent, though expressed differently.

Beyond this articulated love, what also struck me was that both said they’ve learned from their kids. Isn’t that awesome?  Parenting is a 2-way learning street.  I am happy for both dads as well as their daughters – they are loved!

I have 2 daughters and, for the first time and with much mulling over, I will introduce them with names – not bub1 and bub2 or Ms14 and Ms10 but as Vanessa and Megan.  That’s who they are and I love them.  I’m blessed to have them both and I’m very proud of them.

But this post isn’t just about expressing that love.

This is about hopes and dreams, shaped by what I have learned from them, so far.

Vanessa

Like Damon’s daughter, Vanessa was born with an “intense, interrogative gaze”; pensive even.  She was very good with words  and articulating her thoughts in a relatively clear way.  We thought she would ace English as a subject….she finally got her first A in English in year 9.  For years, she didn’t think she’s  particularly good with words really.  So what happened?

I don’t know how it is that she has literally found her voice on stage instead – singing and dancing.  Perhaps it was her kindy teacher who picked her as the kindy soloist in the school Christmas concert.  Perhaps it was her stint in the musical Annie playing Pepper (now the story behind that is a tale in itself).  Perhaps it’s her growth to stardom in the Scouts Gang Show.  Perhaps its her Year 8 Music teacher who told her she’s good and encouraged her to become part of the choir, take up singing lessons and study Music as an elective. Perhaps it’s all that and more.

Vanessa is not the best singer or dancer but she has stage presence.  I am biased, yes; that’s a parent’s prerogative.  However, many have told us – strangers in the audience really – who have validated such bias.

We thought she would love to pursue a career on stage but really, Vanessa wants to be a primary school teacher.  She dreams of building a school in *insert a 3rd world country* and for her school to spread widely so all kids can be educated.  Oh, she indicated she intends to sing to her students. 🙂

Megan

Megan was a happy baby.  She hardly cried and settled easily.  She loved playing with and in boxes. She loved to draw.  If words escaped her – often – she would tell her story while drawing.   She was also shy.

Coming 4 1/2 years behind her big sister, she was exposed to the same things. Dance. Netball. School band. Her teachers have been known to call her Vanessa. (Truth is, though they looked alike as babies, they don’t really past the age of 3). Anyway…

We tell her she’s good at art and we’ve got tons of her artwork.  Her teachers tell her she’s good at drawing; someone even told her, I’m lucky to have known you before you’re famous and that’s when Megan was in year 1!  Her year 4 teacher now believed in her and challenged her to work and think harder than she’s ever had; Megan loves to cruise.

She’s given up dance in lieu of Tae-Kwon-Do. She’s also given up band which I’m a lot less happy about.  What she did pick up is #massivelyminecraft.  She’s a gamer! Who knew? Here she can build in digital boxes and tell her story as a 3D drawing, so-to-speak.  She is learning to ask for help because it’s a good way to learn (“if you don’t learn, you die”).  She is always keen to help.  She is showing some ambition (she wants to be a mod).  She is better at Skype than me.  She can tell us stories after stories about her adventures without having to draw it for us.  She has friends and mentors there.  It is her world and in there she is well and truly herself.   Megan is less shy now.  For this, I thank @vormamim and @jokay; they’re vision, dedication and skill are inspirational.

Meagn is only 10 and a little young to consider career choices.  At the moment, she is saying she wants to be an architect (yep, building!).

A note to parents

Many parents will say that all they want for their kids is to be happy.  I used to say that, too.  I’ve changed that now to …. all I want for my kids is to find their voice and be confident enough to express it.   “Happy” is vague. “Find and use your voice” is concrete; it’s practical and achievable.  It leads to happiness, in my opinion.   My kids are on the their way.  I am happy about that.

We expose our kids to many experiences in the hope that one of those will spark an interest, a burgeoning passion, a platform for self-expression.   Let’s not get caught up in the busy-ness of all that ferrying from one activity to the next. Let’s pay attention to what is really happening and give things a chance to grow and blossom.

Help kids find and use their voices. Listen.

A note to teachers

Never underestimate your (our) influence on children.  Really see them – where they’re at and where they want to be.   Know that most parents have hopes and dreams for their kids (quite likely to be happy, but you know  better now right?).  Know that some kids don’t have such parents.

Kids may look alike (there is a reason I used the photos I did), but they are not.  Kids are individuals.   It’s not about ‘being special’. It’s about holding one’s own – an individual in a sea of commonality.

Give kids a voice. Listen. 

To my kids’ inspirational teachers….THANK YOU!

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17 thoughts on “Of hopes and dreams

  1. onepercentyellow says:

    I need to send this to my friend, Marilyn. She’s a reflective mother who knows her kids well too! I think she’d really resonate.

  2. KatyKellington says:

    What a beautiful and personal post. It truly is so important that each student and child knows they are valued for what makes them unique. It was a post that brought a big smile to my face and had me reflecting on my own little one and what he will be like in school. Thank you for sharing the most important pieces of your world.

    • malyn says:

      Thank you Katy. It wasn’t so long ago that i was in your shoes but time flies so quickly. You’re right, they are the most important pieces of my world.

  3. Jane says:

    Hi Malyn great words and thoughts here! I think as parents we can tend to compare our children too much and I am guessing that teachers can do the same especially if siblings follow each other closely in school (I was often called my sisters name). If I think about me and my 4 siblings we are all very different and have chosen such different paths despite coming from the same environment. Focus on strengths and passions and offer opportunities to explore new things. I hope that my sons teachers next year are as passionate and thoughtful as you. Cheers Jane

    • malyn says:

      Thanks Jane. It’s natural for people to compare – part of our cognitive processes. It’s not bad in itself. It’s when it’s used to ‘limit’ others because we can’t see past the similarities that’s a real problem. It’s the differences that, well, make us different and individuals.

      Offering opportunities is one of our jobs as parents – and teachers. With kids, it’s really hard to tell what they’ll be good at or be passionate about until they’ve given things a fair go. With most things, we ask our daughters to give it a year, e.g. dance, band, etc. It teaches them commitment as well as perseverance.

      Thanks for your lovely comment.

  4. Tomaz Lasic says:

    They may have different interests but there are so many paralleles between your girls and our two boys (both younger, you met them in Sydney).

    A nice read and thank for sharing an important piece of … yourself.

    Your words seal it nicely: “Help kids find and use their voices. Listen.”
    The key to happy kids and happy grown-ups, even though/when the voices may not always be exactly what we want to hear (the great conundrum of parenting huh? 😉

    Take care Malyn, have a great 2012. And your family, of course!.
    Tomaz

    • malyn says:

      Thanks Tomaz for your wonderful comment.

      It just dawned on me that what you’ve been doing at your school is exactly that – helping those kids find and use their voice as well as listen. That is awesome. I do believe that these kids have a much better chance at finding happiness than they ever would have. Lucky them to go to your school.

      Take care too Tomaz. Meeting you and your family certainly a highlight of 2011 for me.

  5. Kris McGuire says:

    Thank you very much for giving me your link to this post. It’s beautifully written and so powerful. I needed this today; there are some times in certain situations where my voice is lost or I’m not sure what the sound of my voice is or should be.

    Your descriptions of your daughters really hit me as I try to teach my teachers the importance of their voice. I should take my own advice:)

    • malyn says:

      You’re welcome. I had to link because I wanted to show you how important this is to me. I hope you find your voice when you need it most.

  6. Glenda Gregory says:

    Thank you for sharing this Malyn. The world is built on hopes and dreams. Have your girls read this post? When your two beautiful girls are old enough to fully appreciate your thoughts they will realise what a special person you are.

    • malyn says:

      Thanks Glenda. They haven’t read it but I have told them about it. And I tell them directly, too, in other ways.

      You know what? We are all special. I know that sounds trite but it’s true. Our uniqueness make us all special. Of course, I wish I knew this much earlier. 🙂

  7. Denise Krebs says:

    Malyn,
    I’ve been thinking a lot about VOICE since Kris’s image on Flickr and your comment leading me back to this post. You helped me put a name to what I feel called to do in the classroom. You’ve inspired me to write about it briefly on the first goal of the #30Goals Challenge here. I’m still working on that philosophy of education, but your post has helped me.

    Thanks,
    Denise

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