“Mommies and Daddies always believe that their little angels will be special indeed. And they could grow up to anything, but who would imagine a king? One day an angel said quietly that soon he would bring something special to me. And of all of the wonderful gifts he could bring who would imagine? Who could imagine? Who would imagine a king?” from “Who Would Imagine a King” on The Preacher’s Wife Soundtrack

I’ve always loved this song. Whitney was at the pinnacle of her game vocally. I enjoyed the movie “The Preacher’s Wife.” And Christmas time is one of my favorite times of year. Although, now as the mom of fabulously wonderful, highly intelligent, incredibly talented children, I have to question the premise behind this song I hold so dear. What about us as parents limits our thinking regarding our children’s abilities and aspirations? Have you ever found yourself downplaying or dismissing your child’s hopes and dreams?

I have to admit, I was never very good at the nurturing aspect of being a mom until my “come to Jesus” year in 2011. I had prayed to be better mom and a better parent, especially for my bonus child (I am not a fan of the Stepford label). He is definitely different from his father, and me for that matter, which makes parenting him a challenge for us. While we are driven by achievement and success, he is content to get a D. I mean, he didn’t fail; what’s the problem?

While he excelled in Band, Music, Art and Physical Education, Science and English were an afterthought. Needless to say, the conversation that ensued the day he brought home a CD of beats and tracks and declared “I want to be a rapper,”  didn’t go over well. I am almost embarrassed to write what I thought in response. I am embarrassed to write what Harold said in response. Let’s just say his lack of interest in the actual English language as taught in his Language Arts class was a central theme.

Fast forward two years to the moment Olivia expressed her career interests. I was combing her hair and she was watching TV. She said, very directly, “Mommy, when I grow up, I want to be a maid.” Everything within me tensed, and I felt as though I had swallowed my own fist trying to come up with the proper response to that statement. Don’t get me wrong; I am not above domestic work (although the condition my home on an average day might indicate otherwise). My great-grandmother was a domestic worker when she moved from the dairy farm her family owned in Mayesville, KY to Cincinnati, OH. As a child, I remember driving with her to the house (that still stands in Amberley Village) to retrieve forgotten items and collect payment. It wasn’t until adulthood that I understood there was degradation associated with it.

However, in the new millennium, becoming a maid was the last thing I expected to hear from my then six-year-old. Once I pulled myself together enough to form encouraging words in a soft tone, I uttered “Oh really? Where did you hear about that?” She responded “On Hannah Montana. She was pretending to be the maid.” Needless to say, my defensive demeanor calmed and I was able to engage in a conversation about all the options she has of what she might become as an adult.

As parents, we often project our preconceived notions onto our children. And that brings me back to the title song from this post. Why would Mary not have known that her baby boy would be king? Her conception alone ought to have been an indication that this child was going to be something special. She was told by Gabriel that he would inherit the throne of David. And the same was recorded in the prophecies by Isaiah, about which I am certain she was aware.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never endLuke 1:30-33 NIV
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV

Wouldn’t we all like to be given an assured outcome for our children’s futures? Here, Mary had the Master’s Plan spelled out for her. And even with that, she imposed her own ideas about what he should have been doing when Jesus began teaching in the temple at age 13 (Luke 2:49-51). And while Gabriel may not show up on our doorstep, when can certainly ask God for guidance and direction on the purpose He has placed upon our children and who they will become. Through that process of revelation, we should work to extend a bit more grace toward our children when their ideas seem a bit far fetched for our liking.

In the foreword of his rap-song-turned-children’s-book Just the Two of Us, Will Smith writes the following regarding advice, guidance and nurturing he received from his parents.
I told my parents I was going to be the next Bill Cosby, funny and rich.’ They replied, ‘Why not work hard and be the first Will Smith?”
This highlighted for me that the process of inspiring and encouraging my children’s dreams walks a fine line between realism and hope. Balancing the truth about who God made them to be, without dousing their hopes and dreams is a delicate dance. And mastering it takes work…and prayer. Will Smith wanted to be funny, famous and rich (and I must say, he hit the trifecta on that one).

Olivia wanted to be like Hannah Montana – ultimately, she wanted to be an actress who even as an actress pretends to be other people. Knowing that she is the world biggest drama queen, we’ve enrolled her in programs and training to develop and hone those skills. And she is currently well on her to become an actress. We’ll see what happens with Trevone’s rapper aspirations, but on another note he is doing much better in Language Arts. LOL As difficult a pill it is to swallow, Harold and I may have killed that dream. Don’t be your child’s dream killer.

I’ll close this week’s blog with an anecdote on Alexandra. Recently, she brought me a large gray rock, that had been in her back pack. She said to me “Mommy, I am going to plant this rock and grow a rock tree.” The old me would have corrected her; let her know there is no such thing as a rock tree or that planting rocks won’t grow anything. The new nurturing mom in me, took the rock and said “OK. But why don’t you let me hold on to it until it’s planting season?” Content to do so, she handed it over and walked away – feelings, ego and sense of self in tact. The rock still sits on my work desk. I am looking at it as I type, thinking, maybe, just maybe, someday she’ll figure out how to make it grow into something when planted. It reminds me not to underestimate the God given potential of my children and not to kill their dreams.