My mind, probably like everyone’s, works in a continuous stream of consciousness. It bounces from one idea to another so quickly sometimes that I have to backtrack carefully to figure out where the last idea came from. A few months ago, it went like this: I read about someone’s bucket list and was feeling sad that someone so young had or needed a bucket list. That thought shifted to realizing that the sadness comes from the word “bucket” and its connection to death. I then thought that if you remove the death connotation, the list takes on new meaning. Instead of being a list of things you must do quickly, it becomes an insightful look into your very personality. The things that make you you.
It then occurred to me that I would love to have in writing my girls aspirations at this very moment. I felt I already knew most of them, but having them in writing would not only cause us to pay attention to them and check them off as they happen, but it would allow all of us to look back at them in the future, to see which ones had been checked off and which ones were still on the list, and which ones they had decided they no longer wanted to do.
For instance, all my youth I planned to sky dive. It was one of those things that terrified my mom even more than my taking flying lessons in college. And because I’m a complete klutz, it was one that had me a little nervous as well, but it was always a goal. But when I was 26, I had tears in both of my retinas (a hereditary thing — my dad had a detached retina at the age of 40) and was told to avoid rapid falls, like sky diving. So off my list it went, really without any sadness. That onetime thrill was not worth my sight.
There are other things I always thought I wanted to do that as I got older slipped to the other side of the paper to the list of things I don’t want to do, ever.
So back to my stream of consciousness, I decided on New Year’s Day that instead of asking my girls for New Year’s Resolutions, I would ask them to write down for me things they want to do in their lifetime. I suggested that the lists could include things they wanted to do, places they wanted to visit, what they wanted to be when they grew up, and even things they wanted to buy (but I asked that the list not be just material things they desire), or anything else that was important to them.
I was amazed at how they took to the task. Each of them asked, “Why?” when I first mentioned it, which sent a cloud of dread through my stomach. I was sure the resistance had started, which could only mean a bad thing for the richness of the list. I was wrong. The question was apparently just curiosity because when Jim answered, “Because your mom asked you to,” and I answered, “We’ll talk about it later, but for now, please write down for me what you’d like to do in your lifetime,” they both headed straight to their rooms and excitedly began to write.
After a couple of minutes, each of them came out and shared the beginnings of her list. They wanted to know what we thought of the items and if we thought they would choose those.
Over the next few days, I caught each of them adding to her list. Emerald even ran through hers with me asking me if each thing would be on my list, now or when I was a kid.
Emerald and Sapphire have both given me permission to share their lists. Em’s includes:
- Going to Australia
- Riding a horse on a beach
- Being a marine biologist
- Running in a 5K with her mom
- Riding in a hot air balloon
- Riding in a helicopter (on the plan for Hawaii)
- Have the children’s book she wrote for school published and in stores
- Sky diving
- Learning to surf (also a possibility in Hawaii, at least to start it)
- See the Northern Lights
- Backpack through Europe
- Go to Germany, Paris, China
- See the Rockettes
- Twirl during halftime at football games
- Be in a marching band (she plays flute)
- Write a novel
Things I want to do:
- Sky dive
- Ride in a balloon
Things I want to own:
What I want to be when I grow up:
- A baton coach
I want to travel to:
- Cape Cod (again; we used to go every summer)
- The North Pole
- South Carolina
This activity has achieved more already than I had imagined. It has opened up conversations. It has encouraged the girls to ponder their wildest dreams. It has focused their attention on far away locations. It has asked them to imagine.
[One word of caution, though. If you have a goal-oriented, introspective child, be aware that this could also cause some anxiety in the end as she realizes, “I don’t know what else I want to do.” In our case, this was after a page full of ideas had already found their place on the list. It wasn’t too bad, though and was short-lived when we assured her that she had her whole life to add to it.]
The plan is to type these up when the girls are finished (or scan them in to preserve the handwriting as well) so that I can find them in 10, 15, 20 . . . years. In addition to lifetime goals, what I have here is a lifetime of memories, beginning now.