I work with, and have always worked with LOTS of kids of all ages. Whether it be nannying, kids choirs, Baby/Parent classes, guided toddler obstacle courses, managing bouncy house locations, violin lessons, group classes, or orchestra sectionals, I have accrued many a (sometimes not so) tall tale from my teaching experiences. One of my faves goes like this:
5 yo boy: Miss Kit, do you know why I keep growing my hair so long?
K: Are you going to donate it?
5 yo: No. It’s because, well, d’ya wanna know what I’m gonna be when I grow up?
K: Of course I want to know!
5 yo: I’m gonna be a Knight. Or a Rockstar.
Obvi this kid is going straight to the top. Not only does he have a dream that’s clear as day, he’s also starting to develop his hair tossing skills early, getting those 10,000 hours in. Look out world. Knights are coming back, and not just at Medieval Times.
I miss those days when you know what you want, and are not afraid (or may be ignorant) of the Chicago potholes waiting for you (these are REAL, just ask my car…). I miss the days when it doesn’t matter what your goal is, because you’re still bound to have someone cheer for you, even if just until tomorrow. When you know you’ll KNOW the very moment you’ve made it.
Last summer, I was giving a Lyft ride, and I got to chatting with my passenger. Nice guy, going to a job interview, trying to stay pumped. Upon learning I’m a musician, he asked me:
“So, what do you want to do with it when you’re older?”
I suppose I should take this as a compliment, like getting carded for a drink (or the one time I got asked to prove I was 16 so I could get a manicure…?). It probably had everything to do with him prepping for his dream job, not any intentional assumptions about me. But, to him, in that moment, since I’m driving Lyft, I must be ‘entry-level musician’, or a ‘free spirit looking for direction’. Nothing like my hair-tossing rockstar-knight 5 yo student.
Dreams are hard, guys.
How do I say that I’m actually making my dream happen? How do I explain that building a chamber group nonprofit organization takes too much unpaid time to work a regular salaried or even part-time hourly job? How can I prove that driving allows me time to reflect on how life resonates through music instead of teaching 25+ students and 5 family music classes/week? How do I justify the choice between practicing and working odd hours or the panic every time rent is due all the while trying to buy an instrument more precious than Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket?
Because this is what I want to do when I grow up.
Obviously, my dream is not to be poor, to drive Lyft, work myself to the bone, or even get the last available Golden Ticket. Hopefully one day I’ll even have enough money to consider myself financially stable or even *gasp* comfortable.
My dream is to speak AND listen to the world around me. To be a person who lives and works with integrity. To know I never gave up on us as a community, working through the twists, turns, and potholes we find/have/bring ourselves. My tool is music.
You can still card me if you want, but I’m all growed up, friends. Despite the tears, the doubts, the anxiety, the sweat, the potholes—er pitfalls, and the failures that will go on forever and ever and ever: