As a little girl, I wanted to be a gymnast when I grew up, and a chef, a dancer, a track star, a writer, a teacher, a model, an actress, Miss America, and Wonder Woman, because I wanted that lasso of truth.
Childhood fantasies of becoming a working grown up change as often as kids pick their new favorite toy. Windy whims. Creative tornadoes. These are the things that sweep in and carry young daydreams to insurmountable heights. In a perfect household, parents support whatever their child wants to be, even if they wouldn’t mind bragging about having a son or daughter accepted to medical or law school. But regardless of what they do, we as guardians pray that our children will grow up to be competent, law-abiding, adults — that they’ll make enough stable, sufficient money to take care of themselves, their new family, and hopefully us when we grow old. But you can never tell what will happen if one afternoon your son says, “Mom, I’m going to join the circus!” He kicks his leg out and does a flexible knee bend in the middle of the kitchen floor. “Ok, Baby,” you say with an understanding grin. “You’d be good at that. You’re flexible.” And then he grows up, actually joins a traveling carnival as part of a dancing trapeze act, and sees you only once or twice a year when the circus is in town. You’re left wondering what you did to make him want to wear dance slippers and do backbends on a tightrope all day. You question if he’s gay, because he’s a ballerina, thinking, “I only took the boy to see Alvin Ailey to show him a little culture.”
And then there are young people who grow up to mimic what their parents do professionally. We see this mostly in Asian cultures, where children are traditionally expected to follow in the steps of dad and work in the family business. Parents have the power to drive the direction of their kids’ career choices. In Julia Cameron’s 1992 book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, chapter 1 begins:
Parents seldom respond, “Try it and see what happens” to artistic urges issued from their offspring. They offer cautionary advice where support might be more to the point. All too often the artistic urges of the artist child are ignored or suppressed. Often with the best intentions, parents try to foster a different more sensible self for the child. “Stop daydreaming” is one frequently heard admonition. “You’ll never amount to anything if you keep on with your head in the clouds,” is another.
Last week, my little man proclaimed, “I wanna be on the movie. I wanna be on the screen.” My eyes flashed as I said, “Really baby?” He shook his head up and down and suddenly stopped. “No. I have a better idea. I wanna make a movie. I wanna make a action movie.” I was beaming, smiling super hard. “Wow! Really baby? I guess we have to get you a camera.” He nodded his head affirmatively again, harder this time. “Yeah, I wanna make a movie about people fighting venus fly traps.”
This flash of innocent genius came after watching the video below. It’s an excerpt from a nice talk I had with LaRon Batchelor, a camera and video expert turned burgeoning filmmaker. He interviewed me one afternoon in Brooklyn for his short film series My Small Story, [Mysmallstory.wordpress.com] which shares the worlds of multifaceted folks from across America. After a babysitting snafu, I ended up having to bring my son to this meeting with LaRon. It was worth it. Because I know for sure that the resulting conversation helped influence and move one mind. And in my world, that’s all it takes.
Check out mysmallstory.wordpress.com to see more of LaRon Batchelor’s film series My Small Story