For my daughter’s Kindergarten class this year, I took the lead on the class project for our school auction. Luckily, I had the opportunity to work with ClassicKids Photography on the Upper East side to create a fine arts mural with the theme “When I Grow Up.” Each child was asked to come dressed to the photo shoot as what they wanted to be when they grow up. This adorable group of Kindergarteners were excited to dress up – especially as it was months after Halloween – and eager to show one another their future selves.
Our amazing photographer, Lindsay May, has a true gift for working with children. Each child entered the studio a bit tentatively, not sure what to expect. Some were shy, others excited, and it was amazing to see the transformation across the board. Most of the children had their moms in the room, often fixing their hair or telling them to smile a certain way. After a minute or two, the kids forgot about everything and connected with Lindsay while she worked her magic. They were giggling, posing, jumping, making faces and there were countless hearty belly laughs. They all had a ball, and it was an absolute treat to witness.
Ballerinas, gymnasts, firemen, police officers and rock stars smiled through multiple flashes. There was a pirate, a veterinarian, and a little girl who couldn’t quite decide, so she was a combination of a “momma/teacher/puppy owner.” One boy was dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt holding an iPad and an iPhone. His response when asked what he was: “My mom says I’m an entrepreneur!”
There was a fashion designer, followed by football players and a yoga instructor. Let’s not forget about the astronaut, the newscaster and a handsome boy donning a suit and tie, proudly holding a sign that said “Mr. President.”
Their hopes and aspirations for the future are boundless. These children wholeheartedly believe that the world is their oyster, as they rightly should. They are blissfully unaware of what it will entail for them to reach their dreams. They are clueless about SAT scores, college applications or those much anticipated acceptance letters. Tuition and student loans are as foreign a concept as graduate school, internships and training.
They can’t imagine how many times their ‘dream job’ will change between now and when they’re handed their first pay check. Unbeknownst to them, their careers will likely take many twists and turns, well into adulthood. They have yet to experience hard-core competition or the devastation that comes with failure. They have years to go before discovering their true talents and passions, all which will guide them down their own personal path. How lucky they are at this moment in time. All they know now is that they can be whomever they want to be. It’s fun for them to imagine it and even more fun to dress up as their future selves, before moving on to the next activity.
If only there were a way to bottle this pure conviction and faith in oneself – a way to hold onto it even when they receive a disappointing grade or get passed over for a promotion. Wouldn’t it be great to figure out a way to teach them now, and let it really sink in, that doing their best and truly making an effort will make all the difference? That hard work eventually pays off and with it, their successes will be all the sweeter?
We believe in our children and know how bright and sweet and funny they are. They are perfect to us and we have no doubt of their amazing potential. We want them to be happy and healthy but we also know they can be successful in whatever they set their minds to. We know how difficult school becomes with each passing year, we remember the challenges and the pressures that go along with it all and we fear the outside influences that can get in their way. We know only too well just how fleeting this blissful state of theirs is.
May we each find our own way of continually encouraging our children, developing their self-esteem and confidence while supporting them as they navigate their way through life and reach for their dreams. I have no doubt that years from now, when this group of kindergarteners have grow up, there will be unimaginable accomplishments and success stories amongst them. I hope I do everything in my power to help my daughters dream big and go for it with gusto. Personally, I can’t wait to watch and see what my future little gymnast will actually become.
Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, Mina was an HR Recruiter for years. Now her time is spent happily juggling the demands of two young daughters while trying to expose them to the endless adventures the city has to offer.
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