My cousin’s 11 year old daughter is into absolutely everything – ballet, singing, clarinet – and, whenever I see a new photo pop up on Facebook, it reminds me of all the extra-curricular activities I used to do as a kid. However, the detail of my memories is vague. Despite my parents taking the odd photo here and there, I’ve forgotten so much.
My cousin has captured and shared a multitude of photos on Facebook, the most recent being her daughter’s advancement to wearing pointe shoes for ballet, but also rehearsal photos, backstage photos and a multitude of extraordinary costumes.
Last year this gifted little member of my family was invited to perform as a lead child star in a local performance of the prestigious opera The Marriage of Figaro. For all we know, she may be the next Joan Sutherland. Or maybe, like me, she’ll move onto something different and forget those dreams of being an elite basketballer or famous actor – yes, I’m projecting.
And that’s what got me thinking. When we’re young we’re all stars in our parent’s eyes and so perhaps we should, for the sake of our children, give them the star treatment. I certainly don’t mean in a creepy child beauty pageant kind of way and I definitely don’t mean in a way that falsely props up their fragile egos when there’s no apparent talent to speak of, but instead in a supportive manner that actively encourages excellence.
Inspirational imagery and non-monetary rewards are fundamental to supporting and recognising effort, respectively. Scott Barry Kaufman in Psychology Today describes research that shows that people who are ‘generally more inspired in their daily lives also tended to set inspired goals, which were then more likely to be successfully attained.’
What a wonderful gift it would be to express support of your child’s latest achievement through a canvas photo collage that captures their journey to excellence – photos of the rehearsal, the struggle, the backstage (or locker room) antics, the friendships they made, the fun they had and, finally, the performance itself.
If they brought home a winning trophy, medal or award, you might also include that (but it’s not absolutely needed as a marker of their success).
Your child is already a star in your eyes and you already act as their number one fan, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to start documenting all parts of their journey through photography, not just the medal at the end.
Hanging a photo collage on their bedroom wall alongside their favourite star will provide inspirational support for the next phase of their journey or comfort in closure should they ever wish to retire their pointes and call it a day.
If our children’s dreams change, capturing these moments will help them fondly remember those intensely challenging but amazing times of fun, laughter and self-development (well, at least the first two). If our children’s dreams progress to a professional or accomplished level, how wonderful would it be to hold those memories close to your heart and home?