I was at my nieces nursery graduation recently and made some interesting observations. Before this I had thought the idea of children graduating nursery was a little on the silly side but when I got there, saw how excited the kids were, especially my niece, I realised that going to school is a huge milestone in a child’s life. If we can’t have pomp and ceremony to celebrate that then when can we?
At the end of the ceremony the kids were asked to announce what they would like to be when they grow up. Most of them had the ideas of becoming firemen, hairdressers and dragons but there was this one little girl who said she, “Just wanted to be herself.” This struck me as an odd thing for a five year old to say. Perhaps she had picked it up from her parents telling her to just be herself but it got me thinking, do we ask children to map out their lives too early in life? Are we so set on them having a game plan that we forget they are only five years old?
I’m sure a lot of adults will realise that a child that young will change their minds several times before they come to a point where the real decision has to be made. I know plenty of adults who still haven’t made that decision properly and their minds change on an almost weekly basis too. What does a child as young as five really know about life goals and ambitions? They are at that miraculous age where they are told to believe in the impossible. This margin of imagination is getting narrower and narrower each passing day. Children aren’t being allowed to dance around in the blissful imagination for as long as they used to. They are taught to grow up faster and with that they are being asked to start putting their lives together as quickly as possible.
I’m guilty of it myself. I have asked many a child what they would like to be when they grow up. I’m not expecting them to know, its just a general query to spur their colourful minds on but maybe a child of five doesn’t realise that. By adults asking them that are they lead to believe that it is something they should be giving due consideration to? I hope not. I like the idea of children being left to believe in the impossible for as long as possible. Santa Claus is only a brief visitor in a child’s life now and how many kids are in school still believing in the tooth fairy? Not as many as there would have been in previous generations.
That brings be back to that little girl, stood on a podium in front of family, friends and strangers. “I just want to be myself,” she announced. Part of me was a little heartbroken that a child that young would have to say such a thing. Another part was so pleased at her sentiments. ‘I just want to be myself’. Well I do hope that that little girl grows up to be herself. A lot of adults would strive for the confidence to just be themselves. Confident little girls like my niece who can do anything they turn their minds to give hope of the next generation always striving for that impossible.
I know that when I grow up I want to just be myself too.
Vivika Widow is the author of crtically aclaimed ‘Conflict of the Throne’ series as well as the fairy tale horror ‘Red Snow’ and the best selling thriller ‘Maestro’
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