My two year old grandson is spending the week with us while his parents are enjoying a well deserved vacation. So that means I get to start doing what grandpas do best. Yes, I will begin the spoiling routine. For today’s effort, we will go to one of my favorite eating spots for breakfast. The restaurant is The Jet Room. For those of you whom have never experienced it, The Jet Room serves an incredible breakfast with a direct view of the airport and its runways. Jackson is in for a treat.
Before we can even begin breakfast, we are treated to multiple small and medium sized private planes landing and taking off right before his saucer sized eyes. Jackson, you see, has been enthralled with planes ever since the first time he was able to understand that a contrail was the evidence of an plane. Now, surrounded by planes, he is pretty much distracted, and even his chocolate milk goes untouched. It only takes a few more minutes and Jackson declares “Jackson wants a plane”.
I know what you are thinking but no, I didn’t go buy a plane or even a ride. Even my spoiling vent would ever go that far, let alone my bank account. But his request stirred a different thought. How far does one go in the effort to influence a child’s dream.
I raised two daughters and throughout their youthful exuberance, I watched them switch from one dream to another. It seemed that every time they got to experience an “adventure”, they developed a new dream of what their future might hold. I learned then to be supportive. This often meant getting the necessary equipment or even perhaps enrolling them in a class or camp. But I soon figured out that the danger lie in trying to create my dream rather than letting them evolve their own. We can miss the point so easily. The beauty of the exposure to different opportunities is that the child learns to dream. If we become the “pushy” parent, we try to influence the dream. There is no independence and as a result no ownership. Without either of these two key ingredients, the child will never develop what is needed to possibly make their dream come true; a goal and the determination to reach for it. We should be supportive but they need to be independent. This is a difficult balance.
If you were thinking I was about to tell you how to find that balance, sorry. The truth is that balance is something one finds on their own. It is trial and error that must be experienced. I will put it this way. Today I could have bought Jackson a plane ride and spent the entire time telling him he could become a pilot one day, but that would be my dream. I will admit that I had the “future pilot” t-shirt in my hand, but balance told me to put it away. I had done my job. I had given Jackson an adventure. I must leave it to him to dream and maybe one day pursue some course that involves planes. The truth of the matter is that he may just have had a day of fascination and nothing more will come of it. But I am sure of one thing, Jackson will evolve his own dreams and one day, who knows, maybe the sky will be the limit.