My ten-year-old and I have two favorite mommy-and-me topics: first, he enjoys hearing about how he was when he was much younger, and second, how things will be when he grows up. Somewhere between that is “the now” of my soon-to-be fifth grader and mommy trying to keep him from growing up too fast.
I am just grateful that he never passed the “I want to drive a dump truck/garbage truck” stage which my youngest brother, Nikki, swore to in his early years. (And we were all relieved that he eventually did become a licensed Physical Therapist now working in one of the bigger hospitals in Manila!)
These days, my little boy is fascinated with Social Studies and the American Revolution in general. At the end of his fourth grade, he got the Social Studies Expert award with matching cheers of approval from the rest of his class. We, as the proud parents, beamed with pride, but he glowed with the recognition of his expertise and that was the most precious of all.
You can imagine how heartening it is to hear him say he wants to be a History Professor when he grows up. He wants to study History and teach History.
I’m trying very hard not to let my dreams and aspirations get in the way of him forming his own. I want him to set his own goals in life– and I want to just be on the sidelines cheering him on. I want to see him get himself to a university of his choosing and pursuing his dreams to fruition. I don’t want to be the parent living her dreams through her child. That would be most unfair because we bring our children up to be their own person and not to be who or what we couldn’t be. If we couldn’t live our dreams, we should make new ones for ourselves instead of burdening our children with the pressure of succeeding where we failed.
We always want what’s best for our children, of course. Well, most of the time. I don’t want to be that parent who pins their future hopes and dreams on their children’s success. I want to stick around for as long as I can and maybe watch him become a family man eventually. But I see myself growing old around him, but not being a burden on him.
It would be great to hear him say “I want to be a lawyer like you, Mommy,” but for now, the fact that he is thinking of college and doing something fruitful afterwards is good enough. Maybe in time he will think of the legal profession. That would be nice, but it wouldn’t be the death of my hopes and dreams if he chooses to be a rock star instead. (Well, he doesn’t have the rock star voice although he has the swag. Plus, there’s the prerequisite that a rock star career be preceded by a college degree.)
I was never goaded by my parents to pursue a legal education. The one and only goal was to go through and finish college. That I landed in the University of the Philippines was an added plus but would not have been the be-all and end-all of my post-high school life. The choice to go to law school was totally mine, and a dream I had set my heart on as early as I was choosing my college course or the university I was going to attend. At that point in my life, I was going to college with the end in view of eventually going to law school.
I have come across many young people who had thought about law school much later, or not even with such a long thought out aspiration as I did — and that doesn’t surprise me, and that doesn’t make it any less a valid dream or goal to aim for. We go through life learning about what we can do and what we want. These things change as our personality changes through our life experiences. Sometimes we grow in ways we never thought we would, and we find ourselves suddenly thinking of things we never thought we would consider, like being a lawyer.
I’d like to think that my own life experiences will have some bearing on my little guy’s own life choices, but when it comes to the career or direction he will want to take when he is older, I’d rather leave the decision to him. I won’t try to influence that one way or the other, except perhaps to convince him staying closer to mommy instead of moving to the other side of the country would be just as good. (I’m trying to bribe him to actually stay here until he is ready to stand up on his own two feet AFTER college.. wishful thinking, I know.)
I would be on cloud nine if one day he tells me he wants to be a lawyer, too. But that’s many years away, and I can wait. For now, I’d be happy to encourage the dream to be a History Professor. After all, History is a good pre-law degree. =)
When you don’t make it to the school of your choice