“I just want them to be happy. I want them to follow their dreams. To fulfill their passion.”
We all say it. We all mean it.
Or do we? I’m not sure I do anymore.
My children are only 10 and 12 and have a long time to change their minds – or to have their dreams dashed by teachers, friends and the world.
But if that doesn’t happen, should I crush them?
I love that they have a dream, a passion and possibly some talent. Last week I burst my pants and my pride dancing at my little boy’s punk rock group as he drummed and sang to the songs of my youth. He looks like a rock star, he’s comfortable up on that stage. I’ve been on a high with him ever since.
My daughter did an acting course and I cheered like crazy as she performed a little play they’d written about being mean teenagers. I love watching her ham it up. I’m so proud of her and my phone is full of her in crazy outfits performing little sketches, skits and crazy movies she writes for herself.
But let’s face it, they’ve chosen two professions that are incredibly hard to get a go in, let alone make enough money to live and last long term.
As a child who grew up in the 70s era of free life and free love – and as a Generation Xer damaged because reality really does bite – I am completely torn.
I want to be the parent that backs my babes and helps them achieve their destiny. But I also want to be a parent that has kids who can provide for me in old age. A parent who is rapidly realising I should have encouraged maths and accountancy instead of drums and drama.
Am I getting old? Cynical? Scared?
We all know the stories of children’s passions squashed. Of children forced into boring futures when they felt destined for better. TV shows like The Voice trade on those dreams. There’s a parade of ordinary Australians who think they have something special who stand up to be told they do – or they don’t. And even if they do, only one can win.
This 17-year-old girl sung Delta Goodrem’s hit song, Born to Try, on The Voice and no judge turned around. Not even Delta. (Post continues after video.)
But I have other nightmares, too.
In those nightmares, my kids don’t make it and I have to work until I’m 90 and I have to support them. In those nightmares, we all sit around a radiator eating from tin cans. my daughter stacks supermarket shelves some nights and queues for auditions all day, waiting for her big break. In other dreams, my son couriers crack by day so he can play in a Beyonce cover band at night. I wake imagining him older, bald on top with a limp ponytail down his back, ear pinned by one outsized earring, playing for a few friends and a barman. Or at a local retirement home where I’m up the front, his only groupie.