Last week my four year old told me that she was going to write a book. Being a writer myself, I thought that sounded like a terrific idea – my daughter wanted to follow in my footsteps, I must be setting a good example after all.
‘What will it be about?’ I asked her.
‘You, Mummy,’ she said.
Even better, I thought. I’m not yet famous but someone wants to write a book about me.
‘I wonder what you’ll call your book,’ I said to her.
‘When Mummy Went to Geraldton,’ was her reply.
I’m sure it’ll be a bestseller. Who wouldn’t want to read all about me going to Geraldton?
She then took out an old magazine, cut out each page, stuck them back together with sticky tape, wrote a few of the letters she knows on a few of the pages and presented it to me. My book. All done. Just like that.
At this point, my two year old, who doesn’t like to miss out on anything, decided that she’d better make her aspirations in life clear. ‘I’m going to be a fairy when I grow up,’ she announced.
I wanted to laugh. But I didn’t. Because a big part of me thought how fabulous it was that she genuinely believed she could be a fairy one day. That fairies were real. That she just had to be a bit taller and a bit older. That she had a dream, like her sister.
I was reminded of this conversation by a newspaper article I read that discussed a rise in so-called antisocial behaviour. The author was attributing the rise to the fact that some young people have no goals. No motivations. No dreams.
Why do people stop dreaming? I still dream all the time. That my book will be on the bestseller list. That I’ll win the Booker Prize one day. It’s probably almost as impossible as my two year old becoming a fairy but that doesn’t stop me from imagining what it might be like and thinking, maybe one day.
I still remember one of the first things I wrote when I was in primary school. I was obsessed with Enid Blyton at the time. I wrote a story about a group of toys coming alive at night and getting up to mischief and mayhem. It was called, very imaginatively, Toys Alive!
I remember writing lots of stories like that one. Poems too. In fact I can still quote a stanza from one of my compositions as a nine year old:
Summer is for swimming and playing on the shore
I read my favourite books and it’s never been a bore.
In the morning when I wake I listen to the birds
Their songs are very pretty, and sometimes quite absurd.
Hmmm, it’s not Wordsworth but I was pretty proud of it all those years ago.
The point is, I always had the dream of being a writer. It never changed. I took the roundabout way to get there, via a commerce degree and ten years in the marketing industry. But I made it. I did it. And as ridiculous as my two year old’s dream might sound, I’m going to do everything I can to keep her fledgling idea alive. Because having a dream will never make her unhappy. But losing the desire to dream might.