Children are inspiring – the way they watch something on television and immediately imagine that they too could be a superhero, pop star, or Olympic athlete. Adults can be depressing in how easily we pour our cold reality on their dreams. We think we are protecting our children from unrealistic hopes. We think we are sparing them from disappointment. Is it really better not to dream the impossible, than to try and fail? If that small Jamaican boy, Usain, hadn’t dared to dream of being the fastest runner in the whole wide world, then we wouldn’t have the Olympic legend that is Bolt. If Neil Armstrong hadn’t fancied himself in space, he’d never have made that one small step. If six year old Joanne Rowling hadn’t believed herself capable of her dream of being a writer, writing her first story Rabbit, we’d not have Hogwarts and ‘he who must not be named’.
Children are inspiring the way they see an injustice and declare that they will stop it. They are not hampered by believing that no-one will pay attention. Children have the audacity to believe the best of people and sometimes this brings out the best in people. Take 14 year old Julia Bluhm who was concerned about how many girls in her ballet class considered themselves to be fat and dared to ask Seventeen magazine to stop giving a false view of women by photoshopping their photos. After 84,000 signed her petition the magazine made a commitment not to alter the body size or face shape of the girls and models and to feature a diverse range of shapes and sizes in its pages. Or nine year old Martha Payne who commented daily on her school dinners, focussing attention on the standard of school fayre and raising more than £10,000 for a charity providing meals to school children.
And now we have the Olympics in London. So many dreams fulfilled, so many hopes dashed, so much human endeavour, and so much community support. It moves me deeply. And when my daughter asks whether she could do more gymnastics, I pause before saying no (how can we fit any more in and keep life balanced?) as I consider how every athlete has a tale of how they started their sport and those who first inspired them. The greatest achievements all have small beginnings.
I want my daughter to dare to dream. I do not want to disillusion her.