I don’t really remember what I wanted to be when I grew up when I was six. Sure, I have fleeting memories of pretending I was Wonder Woman for a time in Kindergarten, and later on, Spiderman (apparently super heroes were a big thing for me). I remember being enthralled with the movie, Splash, and having a dramatic and theatrical panic attack every time it rained, lest I accidentally get wet and people discover that I am, in fact, a mermaid.
As I got a little bit older, I was sure I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast. Then it was a hair stylist and make-up artist – though I’m fairly certain that that one was merely peer pressure, as that was the popular career aspiration amongst my little friends at the time. Sometime after that, I had a great teacher who got me interested in science, and I fantasized for a long time about how cool it’d be to be a scientist, or work in a lab of some sort, making those important discoveries that would save all of man-kind from its certain fate.
The only one that really remained consistent though, from the time I was in second grade until the present time, was my desire to be a writer. That was the one that nagged at me, the one that stayed even during the moments of self-doubt and flagellation. I was a writer, dammit. Maybe not sexy or exciting to the world’s standards, unless you’re a Stephen King or a John Grisham, but it was (and is) my passion nonetheless.
Thinking about writing at 40 still gets me as inspired and excited as that little girl pretending to be a Mermaid. And as a side note, a shampoo bottle stands in beautifully as an Oscar statue, when you’re in the shower imagining you’re accepting your award for best original screenplay.
But I digress.
Tegan is six at the time of this writing, and her life’s passion at the moment is to be a performer, particularly a dancer. Now I don’t know if it is a fleeting interest, or the one that’s going to “stick”, but it is real and it is strong. And the thing is, it doesn’t matter if she’ll forget all about it by next week, or if it’s a fire that will stay inside of her the rest of her life. Right now. Today. That’s her passion, and it’s my job to support it.
I think one of the best – and most important – things I get to do as a parent and an unschooler is to help provide the people, places and things that help facilitate my children’s passions. When Tegan first expressed such an interest in the Arizona Sidewinders, and dancing/cheerleading in general, I started looking around to see what I could do. Was there a class she could take? A Wii game she’d like? We looked up YouTube videos for hours, we watched interviews with the girls, we studied clips of their auditions. And then, in an answer to my unspoken prayer: I stumbled on an ad for a clinic to 1) have a meet and greet with the Sidewinders, 2) learn a dance with them, and 3) perform it at the next Rattlers half-time show. Are you kidding me? It was her dream come true.
It was almost two months ago now, and she still talks about it pretty much daily. She loves to work it in to casual conversation…. “you know that time I performed in front of 10,000 people…” The pride she feels in having done it is immense and indescribable. She still looks at her pictures of the Sidewinders all the time. Still draws pictures of them. Still watches videos. Still talks about the day when she can officially try out (12 years and counting).
And if the interest eventually fades, and she moves on to other things, it won’t matter. Nothing will take away from what’s she’s gained from this time in her life. And as a parent? Oh. My. Gosh. The pure, unadulterated, flat-out joy I get in helping my children pursue their dreams and explore their passions, knowing that they know I took them seriously, that I shared in their excitement, that I believed in their goals … there is nothing better.
It’s even better than a shampoo bottle Oscar.