When I was a little girl I loved digging in the dirt, playing with rocks and painting pictures. At one point I wanted to be a model, but after a failed beauty pageant attempt I figured I’d go play sports, and I won many a trophy.
After passing on an offer to play volleyball in college, I attended UMKC, thinking that I wanted to be a computer programmer. You know, they make lots of money, so why wouldn’t I be happy?
Ever heard the saying, “Whatever made you happy as a kid, that’s what kind of job you should do”?
There was a moment when I was sitting at a computer debugging code when I said to myself, “This wasn’t my dream. What am I doing here?”
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I’m obviously not an Olympic volleyball player, but I did manage to walk into the fine arts building at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and complete a degree in graphic design.
You can see my page designs and, on occasion, one of my illustrations in Ink magazine and The Star.
I was thinking about that during the first week of school, when many parents were posting on Facebook about what little Johnny and Janie wanted to be when they grew up.
Fireman. Policeman. Batman. Teacher. Mommy.
Our 9-year-old son dreams of becoming a professional baseball player. I mean, come on, don’t they all?
I’m convinced that professional athletes are chosen by fate. We’re talking straight out of the womb. It’s one of those professions where you have to be at the right place at the right time.
Look at Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain. He didn’t even play baseball until his sophomore year in high school, and that was after he didn’t make the basketball team. Word is he didn’t even have a baseball glove when he tried out.
According to the NCAA, only 2.1 percent of high school baseball players advance to play Division I baseball. Of those, only 8.6 percent go on to play professionally in the big leagues.
I told our son, “I think that’s an awesome goal to have, but everyone needs a backup plan. What are you passionate about besides baseball?”
Asking a boy who loves playing baseball to pick something else is like asking water not to be wet.
So, what age is it OK to crush a kid’s dream? Is it ever OK to say, “That’s never going to happen, so try something else”?
Roy Campanella, the legendary Brooklyn Dodgers catcher, once said, “You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.”
A lot of people wait until they are miserable in their corporate cubicles under fluorescent lights to follow their childhood dreams.
Rachel Macy Stafford, who wrote the New York Times bestseller “Hands Free Mama,” says that at our son’s age, it’s “greatly beneficial to allow (children) to pursue what makes their hearts come alive.” She suggests answering as many questions about qualifications, researching answers together and letting children draw their own conclusions as much as possible.
For now, I think I’ll keep encouraging our son to dream big and work hard in school and at the things he loves. If he doesn’t become a future Royal, maybe he becomes a future Royals announcer, sports trainer, recruiter or even the next Ned Yost.