FIRST PUBLISHED JAN. 9, 2015
It's a new year, a time most people spend reflecting on how their lives can improve, be better, be healthier, be more financially secure, be happier. Once you are a parent, and again when you become a grandparent, these thoughts widen to include your children and grandchildren. Their futures become an everyday, almost consuming, concern.
As I pondered what to write about for this second blog of the Gregorian year, I found myself doing just that: Wondering what the future will be like for my three granddaughters and the grandchild on the way. Naturally, we fret over the current state of affairs in the world and worry what fates await them in it. At the same time, their curiosity, their hunger for knowledge, their desire to make the world a better place gives us hope that, indeed, they can make that happen.
Our daughter's girls are two such bright lights on this planet. They are full of wonder, imagination and creativity. Tom and I often engage Jain and Sofia in deep discussions about their hopes and aspirations. We observe what they like to do now and try to channel those interests into possible career paths — acknowledging, of course, that children often change their minds as they grow and develop new interests. If you ask thought-provoking questions, you are mining a treasure trove, so be prepared for some gems of answers!
Our conversations often become "Ah ha!" moments, as Jain put it last summer. During one of our "Deep Thoughts" discussions, we asked, "If you could go anywhere in the world, what country would you most like to visit?" Jain, who has a deep love of mythology, immediately piped up, "Greece!" This startled me, as I never knew she wanted to go there, but also because I have always wanted to go to the coast of Greece, where all those beautiful white houses dot the landscape against that achingly beautiful blue sea. So going to the Greek coast was yet another thing we have in common. Or so I thought. Jain said, "Oh, no, Dandy. I want to go to Athens, because that's where all the mythology stories happened!"
Further discussion about Athens and mythology ensued, which led us to our "Ah ha!" moment. Jain has, since early childhood, wanted to be a fashion designer. She sews clothes for her dolls by hand and draws a multitude of fashion designs in her sketch pads. All. The. Time. She intends to go to college, possibly to major in music, but also has expressed a desire to attend a fashion design school. As her grandmother, I am fully aware of how cutthroat the fashion industry is. While I don't want to dissuade her from a fashion education and/or career, I do want her to know there are options in that field. I said, "You know, Jain, with your love of fashion design AND mythology, you could easily blend the two and specialize in designing and making costumes for period-piece plays and movies." Well, her eyes lit up and she declared that a great idea! She was all excited and proclaimed to her mom, "You know, Dandy and I had an 'Ah ha!' moment while I was there," and proceeded to tell her all about her career possibilities.
Her sister, Sofia, wants to go to Paris. She has held a fascination with the Eiffel Tower since toddler-hood for reasons unknown to anyone, even herself. Her attraction to it remains a mystery, but she insists one day she will hold her wedding beneath it. We tell her, "Go for it, Sofia!"
Sofia also loves to be in the kitchen, and baked cookies last summer with minimal assistance from me. At one point, she wanted to be a food artist and might still do that one day, but her recent interests are in solving murders. She loves watching all the CSI-type programs on television and tries to figure out who the killer is long before the show is over. We talked with her about forensic pathology as a career. And while she found that interesting she's far more fascinated with becoming a forensic scientist or a detective, going out in the field and collecting clues and helping bring the killer to justice. Perhaps she can blend her interest in detective work with a culinary education in France!
These kinds of revelations are fodder for guiding a child's growth and development and helping them become the best person they can possibly be. When Jain was 8 years old, she arranged my refrigerator magnets into the phrase I AM THE DAWN OF POSSIBLE. Eight years old! We were astounded at just how deep that thought was at her age. Sofia's favorite saying is LET YOUR SPIRIT BE FREE. These two are going places! And we, as their grandparents, are so happy to be included in the journey.
I'll end this post with a quote from the Bahá'í Writings that expresses better than I ever can why all children are so deeply valued and why we must instill in them the virtues and attributes they need to succeed in life and become magnificent human beings:
Children are the most precious treasure a community can possess, for in them are the promise and guarantee of the future. They bear the seeds of the character of future society which is largely shaped by what the adults constituting the community do or fail to do with respect to children. They are a trust no community can neglect with impunity. An all-embracing love of children, the manner of treating them, the quality of the attention shown them, the spirit of adult behavior toward them — these are all among the vital aspects of the requisite attitude.