Big, Big Dreams

First things first: My early music education claim-to-fame is that I shared a class with Ani DiFranco. We were both young students at Waterfront, a K-8 magnet school in Buffalo (she and my middle sister were best friends until we moved in 1983). Mr. Sapienza was our music teacher. I remember sitting in a circle, all of us playing the recorder or tapping out rhythms on little wooden blocks. I later heard he died of AIDS. May his memory be a blessing.

But Greg wins the prize for vivid memories of elementary school music teachers. Mr. Teer was hip and all the kids knew it; he brought his electric guitar to class, played songs by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and got a whole generation of Burlington kids psyched about music. A niece who is now in her twenties and also had Mr. Teer in school recently told us that he even has a fan page on Facebook.

Fast-forward a few decades, and Aviva is now in her second year of enjoying Mr. Teer’s teaching. Every week, she comes home with new songs she has learned, some traditional, others original, some silly and some peaceful. Pearl learns them by osmosis and on car trips, the girls take turns being the “v-Pod” and the “p-Pod,” especially when my actual teeny-tiny iPod runs out of juice, which is often. We “pick” a song and they sing it, or we can skip or rewind.

Lately, Aviva has been singing a new one. With a name like “Big Dreams,” it’s a perfect antidote to various little plagues of late. It’s all about being small but dreaming big – right up my alley, of course. The chorus goes like this:

Big, big dreams
Lots of big dreams
Things I’m gonna do some day
Big, big dreams
Lots of big dreams
Big dreams are okay

Tonight, after playing a few heated rounds of Pearl’s new card game, Greg got in bed with Pearl to snuggle and I curled up with V. She asked if I wanted her to sing to me. I said yes. I said it without hesitation, said yes knowing that she will not always want to sing to me. Said yes to meet her in the moment rather than hurry down to my laptop, my email, my work, my me-me-me-me-me. This beautiful child was asking to sing to me.

As she sang “Big Dreams” in her sweet singing voice, quietly so as to not wake her snoozing sister in the next bed over, I thought about the beautiful commencement speech Greg read to me yesterday.

And I suddenly realized that I didn’t really know what her big dreams were. So I asked her. Here’s what she told me:

Well, my big, big, big, big, BIG dream is to be the first woman president.

And… I want to be a vet.

And a mom to an orphan.

And I want to be a jungle explorer.

“I believe in you and your big, big dreams,” I whispered. “And it’s okay if you change your mind about them, too. Just keep trying new things.”

Permission to dream big. Permission to let big dreams go. And permission to drift towards new ones – which is exactly what she did just then, pulling me in closer, closing her eyes, and letting sleep come.

What are your big dreams? Have you whispered them to anyone lately?

9 thoughts on “Big, Big Dreams

  1. Shawn says:

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. I love big, big dreams. Is that a made up song? Just making sure … Liana’s our l-pod and slowly J’s becoming a j-pod. The songs make no sense but they are definitely a happy button in our house.


  2. Janice says:

    My big dream is slowly but surely coming to pass — thanks in large part to your coaching. You have been the mid-wife to my birthing of this dream…helping me ease it slowly, sometimes painfully, but always lovingly, eagerly into being. Now I’m looking forward to the transition from mid-wife to parenting coach as I grow and develop this baby I call True Body Products. Thank you with all my heart :-)


    • Jena Strong says:

      Janice, that is the most beautiful comment. Thank YOU, for the privilege of being so close to your incredible dream and your strength, courage, and perseverance in sticking with it. I love that baby! And you.



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