59: Pinstripe Dreams

59: Pinstripe Dreams

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive

Pinstripe Dreams

Keep true to the dreams of thy youth.

~Johann Friedrich von Schiller

Ask a classroom of eight-year-olds what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll hear they plan to become astronauts, professional athletes and scientists. Nothing is impossible to a child.

Ask the same question to a high school junior or senior and you’ll get a much more practical response. Seems that getting older prompts us to reel in our dreams, trading them in for more realistic pursuits.

My oldest, however, a high school junior, is very specific about his career path. He intends to wear a pinstripe suit to work. No, he’s not planning a career in business or law. He will complete his pinstripe ensemble with a pair of baseball cleats. He plans to play shortstop for the New York Yankees. He told me so when he was ten years old.

Therein lies my dilemma. At age sixteen, he’s still a dreamer. Just like his mother.

At ten, it was okay to nurture those dreams with inspiration like, “You can be anything you want to be as long as you believe in yourself.” At age twelve, you applaud all-star achievements and keep the scrapbook up to date. But somewhere around fourteen or fifteen, most kids begin to cut themselves from the team. They realize their limitations. Reality sets in. Sometimes, their parents even help them to this conclusion.

I started to question my eternal optimism and support for my son’s dreams after I ran into a former Little League mom. She said that her son wasn’t going to play baseball anymore. This was a kid I loved to watch. Not because he was the best on the team, but because he played like he loved the game. When I asked her why he was giving it up, she said she encouraged him not to play anymore. A loving and protective mother, she wanted him to pursue something that would enable him to enjoy more success.

When should a mom help redirect dreams, if at all? What if your child holds on to dreams well past the expected age? Do you protect him, as my friend was doing, or encourage him to go for it?

I knew early on that I enjoyed writing, and dreamed of bestsellers and book tours. I imagined myself signing stacks of books and being interviewed on talk shows. I knew the odds were against me. Everyone has a book idea. Few ever make it into print. And, the bestseller list? I’ll probably win the lottery first.

But my parents always encouraged me. They were, and continue to be, my biggest fans. Their years of support gave me the courage to put myself in the vulnerable position of being rejected as an author. And I was, over and over again.

But guess what? One of my books did get published and the publisher sent me on a coast-to-coast book tour. They put me up in fine hotels and provided a driver and an author escort to each TV studio and radio station. The best part: writing my book led to an appearance on NBC’s Today show. There I was, being interviewed by Katie Couric in Studio 1-A in Rockefeller Center. I was living my dream.

The bestseller thing is still probably out of the question. I mean, realistically, the odds are against me. But it sure is fun pursuing the dream.

Shortly after giving birth to my future Major Leaguer, I came across a powerful quote. It read: “Successful is the man whose mother is his greatest fan.” I promised then to make that my motto. I think I’ll stick with it. Like my parents stuck with me. Next time my son looks to me for encouragement, I’ll steal a line from Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.”

I hope my son makes the big leagues. If he falls short, well, so be it. It’ll have been a great ride. If he makes it, I will revel in the missed opportunity to buy him a tie to go with those pinstripes.

~Kimberly A. Porrazzo

Postscript: The author wrote this essay ten years ago. Her son, now age twenty-six, never played baseball in college, but was hired by the San Francisco Giants in 2010 as a video scout. That year, his first year working in baseball, the Giants won the World Series and he received the ultimate prize in baseball: a World Series ring.

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