I recently went to see the new Woody Allen movie To Rome With Love. One of the characters sort of traveled back in time and met himself as a young boy. It was an interesting and rather unnerving thing to observe this middle-aged business man hanging out with himself as a young college guy. And it really got me thinking -- what would "little Nina" think of "big Nina" if she were to meet her now? Would I be a disappointment to the little girl who had big dreams for life? Would she thank me for taking care of her and for keeping her dreams alive? Or would she be sad and feel that I had "sold out" as did the young man in the movie?
Inside of all of us dwells a little child who once jumped and played and laughed and danced. This child had big hopes and dreams, and she knew that anything was possible. She was excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. She had this one, seemingly endless life to live with so many exciting possibilities. I wanted to be a figure skater, a pianist, a dancer, or an artist. I wanted to somehow leave a mark on the world -- my own personal handprint. I had many dreams, and my dreams knew no limits. Anything was possible.
If I could - for just a moment - take that same little girl physically by the hand and take a walk with her, how would the conversation go? What would she think as she looked up at me? Would I be someone she admired -- someone she would aspire to be like? If she asked me if I did all of those things that she really wanted to do, could I respond "yes?" Could I tell her that the dream was true, and that I worked hard to make of this life what she imagined it could be? Or would I be jaded, angry, and cynical? Would I tell her that is was all a fantasy and that "real life" is too difficult for me to manage and to give her what she wanted? Would I tell her to "go away and leave me to deal with the harsh realities of a cruel world?"
I think that I would love to spend the day with little Nina, and that she would love to spend the day with me. I could tell her funny stories of ice skating lessons and Irish dance classes that I took as an adult. I would tell her that I am still working hard to make those same pictures that she drew in her bedroom, and I would show her all the new and exciting ways I have learned to make them. I could tell her a wild and crazy story about what I did with her Nana's rice pudding recipe. I would tell her that the damn Exorcist movie that we watched still scares the hell out of me, and that she was right -- the devil is real, but I have met his match. I would tell her that anything really is possible, and I have kept her dreams alive and well. I have taken care of her body, mind, and spirit. I think she would be proud, and she would love me.
Take out a photo of yourself as a child. Spend some time alone remembering who you were -- what your hopes and dreams were. Then take a good, hard, sincere look in the mirror. This isn't a time for excuses, blame, or guilt. This is simply a time of purity and truth. You might be angry at what the child had to endure, but he has in fact endured. There may have been things you could not protect him or her from, but you are here now to be the protector. There may have been devastating losses and difficult circumstances, but you are here now to be the nurturer. This is also a time of opportunity to give the child hope. It's an opportunity to start over and become the person your little child can admire and look up to. It's an opportunity to offer a special child an attitude of acceptance, peace, and hope. You are the child's guardian and the gateway.
I would love to see your photos! Please comment and share your little child's photos with me so I know you are out there :)