My 7-year-old daughter "knows" what she is
going to be when she grows up, where she is going to live, who she is going to
marry, how many kids they will have. She's got it all planned out, and it
cracks me up. I remember being the exact same way when I was her age.
She wants to be a zoo veterinarian. Live in a
beach condo. Marry her current best friend. And have one child.
He's on board with these plans, her friend. They both tell
everyone they come into contact with about their future together.
From my vantage point, I know what will happen to most, if not all, of this shared vision of their adult
lives. But I'm not going to be bursting their bubble.
Children are the best planners. For them, anything is possible. They dream big.
When I was my daughter's age, I was going to
marry my friend Tom. I had the house picked out where we would live. I constantly
talked about how I planned to buy him a red lawnmower. We were going to have
two kids—a boy and a girl. (I'm pretty sure I had their names picked out,
too, but I can't remember now.)
Also? I wanted to be a veterinarian.
None of those things have come to pass, although Tom and I remain good friends to this day. We've shared many laughs
about the plans of our younger selves.
I hope the same is true for
my daughter and her friend. Then, someday many years from now, they can enjoy
reminiscing about conversations like this one, which took place as I drove the
two to school recently:
Him: "When we are grown up and married, we are going to
have babies. And cats and dogs. And a frog. And a snake in a cage for me."
Her: "I'm going to pick out an
orange cat with black stripes!"
Him: "I want to have three kids."
Her: "I want to have just one."
Him: "But I want to have three so there are lots to play with."
Me: "You guys have a long time before you have to figure that
out. But it is important for couples to talk about these kind of things before
they get married."
Her: "One will be enough for me."
Dreams, like play, are the work of childhood. Dreaming sets them up to be successful adults.
"When we have our first baby, do you want me to go to the store to buy
milk and bottles? Would that help you? I want to be supportive."
Her: "Well, maybe some bottles. But you don't need to buy
milk, silly. My body will produce it."
Him: "You mean the milk that comes out of your
Me: "I think you mean breasts, buddy. Women have
Him: "Oh yeah, breasts. Brisk is a drink."
I recognize their future partnership is not likely. Still, I
thoroughly enjoy listening to them work it out. Children are the best planners. For them, anything is possible. They dream big. Exactly as it should be. They
learn through dreaming. They are motivated by it. They explore the process of setting
goals and taking steps needed to achieve them.
Dreams, like play, are
the work of childhood. Dreaming sets them up to be successful adults. They don't have
to have it all figured out at this point. (They don't have to.) But they see how the world works and are finding their place in it.
Oh, the places they'll
go! (And oh, the places they're already going.)