One of my favorite things about being an elementary school teacher is talking with my students about their dreams for what they will become as they grow up. I find that children have the most innocent and endearing dreams and ambitions. So each fall I spend a couple of afternoons discussing different professions with my students and bringing professionals in several common fields into the classroom to get the kids excited about careers. Not a year goes by when I am not surprised by the ambition of at least one of my students, and this past fall was no exception. One of my sweetest students, Annie, proudly told me that she wanted to grow up and be an acrobat.
An acrobat is one profession (if it even is a profession) that I had never heard from my students before. I loved sitting down with Annie and hearing about why she wanted to be an acrobat. Her story of ambition contained several elements that are common to almost all childrens' stories that I have encountered in the past twenty years. There were three main reasons that Annie wanted to be an acrobat when she grew up.
The first reason that Annie wanted to be an acrobat as an adult was because her own mother was in fact an accomplished gymnist who taught classes locally and was known for being a leader in training the next generation of gymnists. Annie, like many other young children, wanted to be an acrobat because she had seen someone of importance in her life with the same career. I find that all children want to emulate the people they love the most in life, and Annie was no exception.
The second reason that Annie wanted to be an acrobat was simply that she had seen a television show or a movie (I cannot remember which) with acrobats in it. It is amazing how much children are influenced by the media that they ingest. This can either be very good or very bad based on what kinds of media they are seeing. Parents and teachers everywhere need to understand the impact that media has on children.
The third reason that Annie wants to be an acrobat is because she is currently enrolled in gymnastics classes and because she enjoys them very much. It is that simple for kids. Whatever they are enjoying and excelling at currently often becomes the focus of their ambitions for later in life.
So whether your child wants to be an acrobat or not, you should be aware of the deep influence of your own life, your child's activities, and the influence of media upon your child.