I Want My Kids To Conquer The World
Just a quick disclaimer before we get started. I do mean that metaphorically.
Being a parent is a pretty tough gig. When parenting advice can change from one week to the next, who knows where you should begin on the epic journey that is raising a human being? There are countless lessons that children must learn in order to prepare them for the realities of the world. Honesty, manners, and respect are just a few of the lessons that fall upon the sleep-deprived shoulders of Mum and Dad to teach.
But I have a different lesson in mind today. One where I help my children to grow up without the word ‘can’t’ in their vocabulary.
“I Can’t Do It!”
I was in the garden with my daughter this afternoon when she decided she wanted to play ball. Unfortunately, the ball she wanted had taken up residence in the middle of our paddling pool.
“I can’t do it”, she said. “It’s too far, I can’t reach it.”
Now in case you were wondering, no, the paddling pool isn’t the size of an Olympic swimming pool. It’s probably 1m x 1m at the most. So for my five-year-old to tell me she couldn’t reach it was ludicrous, getting this ball should have been a piece of cake. But she was being lazy. So I waited. And waited. Then I waited some more until eventually, she got the ball for herself. She probably spent more time complaining that she couldn’t get it than we did actually playing with it before she got bored and wanted to do something else.
I know that she was just being silly, that for whatever reason she simply didn’t want to get the ball. She knows it, and she knows that I know it. So when I sat down with her a little while later, I wanted to make sure she understood why I wouldn’t get the ball for her.
I explained to her that there is no such thing as ‘can’t’ (unless what you want to do is fly or become a mermaid). The fact that she was being silly and didn’t want to get the ball for herself doesn’t matter. But what does matter is that she grows up to understand that she can do whatever it is that she wants to do as long as she puts her mind to it.
The Sins Of The Father
Okay, maybe the word ‘sin’ is a tad strong. But looking back, I wish I’d learned this lesson for myself a little bit sooner. Growing up, I wasn’t truly passionate about doing any one thing in particular. I wasn’t one of these people who grew up knowing they wanted to join the Army or become a doctor or pursue any other career. Even when it came to hobbies, with the exception of reading books, I had no real idea of what I wanted to do:
- I took guitar lessons. Not for me.
- I bought a VERY expensive BMX bike. I used it maybe a handful of times.
- I bought a bass guitar, and later on a keyboard because I loved the idea of playing the piano. I still do. But again, I got bored with both after a while.
I could go on and on, the list of hobbies I tried out is almost endless. The only thing I knew I loved to do when I was young was play basketball. I loved the game more than I loved anything else. So when I joined a local team, I thought that I had finally found what it was that I wanted to do. But I’d never played organised basketball before. It’s completely different from playing in the park with your friends. I managed to convince myself that it was too different, too hard. It wasn’t long before I gave up on that as well.
I Hope This Particular Apple Fell Miles From The Tree
When I was eighteen I got a tattoo going down my ribs on my left side. In Chinese scripture, it roughly translates to ‘Nothing in this world that’s worth having comes easy.’ It really struck a chord with me (unlike my guitar lessons), and I got it as a reminder to myself about the rewards of hard work and perseverance. If that phrase doesn’t ring any bells, here’s a clip for you.
Ten years on and I’ve only just discovered my passion for writing, the one thing I cannot imagine not doing for the rest of my life. It’s taken me 28 years to figure this out. 28. Hell, one year is too much time to waste not knowing what you want out of life, let alone the best part of three decades.
I don’t want my children to reach my age and look back with regrets. Whether it be never learning to play the musical instrument they always wanted to, or taking up dance or singing lessons, taking up a sport, whatever it is that they choose. I don’t want them to repeat my mistakes.
I want them to find something that they are so passionate about, that they can’t imagine a life not doing it. I want them to make the most of every opportunity they have. I want them to set themselves goals that are so ambitious and out of this world, that people call them crazy. Because then even if they fall a little short of their goals, they’ll still be lightyears ahead of those who doubted them. I want them to achieve more than I ever could.
I want my children to conquer the world.
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