The Block Island Times

Have goals and dreams

By Sheridan Fisher Carley | Sep 04, 2012

Dr. Benjamin E. Mays once said: “It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life does not lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goals to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled but it is a calamity not to dream.”

As I look back on the goals and dreams I had as a child, I sometimes wonder what goals and dreams my parents had for me.

I have interviewed a multitude of parents, through the years, whose children were between the ages of 4 and 14 years old. Most parents said they wanted their children to have good interpersonal skills first. Now in the age of technology and the computer, our children and grandchildren need to develop new kinds of social skills.

More than ever, they need the opportunity to play and work with other children (hopefully favorably). They must learn to have a great respect for the talents and abilities of others and they also must know that they are accountable for decisions and actions. The older children are, the more important it becomes for them to have to accept accountability. We hope that when they grow up, they learn to make good choices and decisions on a daily basis.

Some are good. Some are not. Not one of us is perfect. Maturity then comes into play. There are many adults who cannot deal well with disappointments, anger and the responsibility of their bad decisions and how they affect other people. It is our job as parents to help them understand it is okay to not take things personally. Bad decisions happen.

Kids also need to be recognized and praised for all their attempts and personal accomplishments. The goal is for all to have dreams, hopes and wishes, but sometimes it is okay to fall short. What would we be without goals, dreams and hopes?

I once had a set of twins in my class named Conner and Sean. They came to me as 3-year-olds. I had them for two years in school. I have followed their school careers even now through college. They were special children because at the tender ages of 3 and 4 they were the kindest boys I had ever encountered.

They were very popular, played well with others, had great senses of humor, but they were sensitive, in particular Sean. He was always worried about the other children’s moods. Whether they were happy or sad, his empathy was genuine.

I would say “Sean, don’t worry, Mary Grace is just having a bad day,” or, “Joseph is upset because he wanted to stay home, but his mom wanted him to be in school today.” He was so intuitive it interfered with his own happiness. I hoped he would outgrow this. He was also a pleaser.

As years went on, I always kept a check on the boys with their teachers (it is a protective habit of mine for many of the children). I found Sean was much stronger, still very popular and dealing well with his social skills and situations.

At the end of eighth grade there is always an eighth grade dinner dance for the graduates and their parents. To my surprise, I received an invitation to attend from Sean and his parents. Of course I said “I would love to go.”

The first dance of the night, Sean came over to me, a head taller than me and very grown up, and said, “Mrs. Carley, I would like you to be my first dance.” I said, “I would be honored.” While dancing, Sean told me I was his favorite teacher and that he loved the karaoke machine because he loved to sing, and he loved to talk to me about Yankee’s baseball. He said he would never forget pre-K even when he went to college.

I asked him what his dreams were. He said he wanted to be either a rock star or a baseball player. I said that sounded like a fine plan and he should always have goals and dreams. I know that sweet child at the age of 13 had great hopes and dreams. I also know he has probably changed some of his goals, but at 22, he is a fine young man finishing college.

Goals and dreams are so important. Everyone should help children to feel special. My dream is still to be a Rockette at Radio City. You never know!

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