Dream a little dream
“Hey, Mommy, guess what I’m going to be when I’m growed up!” Big Guy asked halfway home this evening.
I’d heard the list often enough to know Little Guy wouldn't get in a word edgewise the rest of the drive.
“I don’t know, babes. What are you going to be?”
“I’m going to drive the fire truck and the police car and the siren thing and be a teacher and a baseball player and cook in the restaurant and …and …” he trailed off, trying to remember the rest of the list. “And be a pilot!”
“Sounds great! You’re going to be a really busy guy,” I said.
He nodded happily. “Yep.”
There were four things I swore I’d never do when I had children. I’d never raise my voice – let calm reason prevail. I’d never say “because I’m the mother.” I’d never make those annoying train noises in an attempt to get my kids to eat.
But most importantly – and the only vow I haven’t broken – I swore never to be a dream-crusher.
I grew up in a time and place where dream-crushing almost made sense. The unemployment rate was so high West Virginia’s unofficial state motto was “thank God for Mississippi.” Mining jobs had disappeared, with no replacement on the horizon.
So you had to get an education. But not too much of one – people looked down on “educated idiots.” And you had to make decent money. But not enough to label you a snob.
But most of all, you had to forget flights of fancy.
I’ve never forgotten a lecture received when I was about 6, when my best friend declared she was going to be a ballerina. I ran home and excitedly shared the news. Not that I was real sure what a ballerina was, but I’d seen my friend’s costumes for her coming recital, and the clothes alone made it look fun.
A room full of people guffawed. “A ballerina? There’s no money in that.”
Which, unless you’re incredibly talented, is true. But so what. Out of big dreams come big achievements. What if someone had told George Lucas to get his head out of the clouds and forget about all that outerspace nonsense?
Despite all attempts to reprogram me to the practical, I read an article in “TV Guide” when I was a preteen that sealed my fate. It was about women covering sports – this was around 1976, so the piece didn’t exactly suggest it was a good idea.
Hmm … a highly impractical occupation where you’re not wanted. I’ll take that!
I spent the next several years by my radio, scoring baseball games into the wee hours and dreaming of covering Opening Day in Cincinnati. Everyone waited for me to outgrow it. Surely I wouldn’t blow a college education on that.
No, maybe I'll be a lawyer instead. That scared them even more. That was just too much education for one little hillbilly girl to aspire to.
“Mom, I forgot something,” Big Guy said. “I want to drive the big truck, too, with a big load.”
“You are going to be a busy man.”
“And tired, too. Maybe I’ll just be a baseball player. And a pilot. And a soldier.”
Why not? It worked out pretty well for Ted Williams.
Oh, and that dream of mine: Still haven't made it to law school, but in 1999, I covered the Giants’ opening game for The Bee. In Cincinnati.
Dream your little dream, Big Guy. I promise I will never crush it.
Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved. -----