When I was young, I believed that I could be anything that I wanted to. The magic of imagination. I could be a pilot (even though I wanted to be a stewardess, their uniforms are cuter!), an explorer, a detective, a ballerina. You get the idea.
However, there are people who love to crush people's dreams. I remember when I was small, a classmate told me that I could never, ever be a scientist, because only men could be one. Then another told me I would never be able to become a dancer, because I lacked grace and poise.
Last week, my kids' school held an event, career day. They were expected to wear costumes that represent careers that they might undertake in the future. Aza was supposed to dress like a manga-ka (comic artist), and Chika, a pilot.
I always tell my kids that they could be anything. If their dreams are pure and they work hard for their goals, I am sure God and the Universe will find a way to make things happen.
And then Chika told me a classmate of hers told her that she wouldn't be able to become a pilot. "All pilots are men!" she exclaimed. Chika told her that no, my mother has a female pilot friend! It is possible! Yet her classmate was adamant, even ridiculing her for wearing a pilot uniform. "You look silly, everyone knows only men can be pilots!"
Deja vu. Reminding me of my childhood, when some people, for unknown reasons (Envy? Malice?) like to belittle others, including yours truly.
And she was only a first grader.
At home, I hugged her and told her that I would always support her. I told her she could be anything, and yes, women can be pilots too, why not? I also told her, as she grows older, more and more people will tell her this: "You won't make it!" You can't always depend on others for support, some prefer to lash out negativity. But her Papi and Mami will always be proud of her.
Then she asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I told her I am a grown up already. "What is it? What did you want to be when you were little?" she persisted. And I told her, "When I was little, I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to be a mother who fills her house with warmth and smell of lovely food. I wanted to be a mommy of wonderful children, like you and your brother."
She then hugged me and whispered to my ear: "Mami, oh Mami, I am so proud of you."