“I’ve been thinking about my future,” she said, chin tilted up to the left, eyes slightly narrowed. I could tell by her tone this was a serious moment. Cadence’s future is perhaps the hardest of my three children to foresee, mainly because there are so many places she could go.
“I don’t want to be the President of the United Sates,” she says, “because I think that is very complicated, but I do know that I want to be involved with public speaking.” Quick breath in and she continues, a clear monologue rolling in her mind. “But I don’t want to wait until I’m an adult and I feel very strongly about a lot of things and I would like my voice to be heard.” She says, ready to explain.
I am astounded, as always, that she is ten and that she is mine.
I grew up wishing to be invisible. I grew up always doubting my opinions and dodging the occasions where I may have to express them for fear they wouldn’t match everyone else’s. I grew up thinking of ways to never, ever have to speak in public.
“For instance,” she stands up from her place on the kitchen stool, momentum building in her like a race car engine, “Racism. People always think of racism as white people being prejudice against black people but it can be black against white or any race. I just wish we could all have green skin and people would stop seeing color as an issue.” We discuss some current events that are rumbling across the television screen in the corner of the kitchen and her conviction builds.
I think about the many gifts she possesses and the places they could take her as I wonder about her new revelation about her future.
Cadence has the gift of music. She is filled with music that permeates from her lungs and through her limbs. She has a Broadway voice and an MTV dance style that we have worked to keep a lid on. She writes beautiful music with her brothers and composes in her head, hearing the melody, the chorus and the parts of accompanying instruments. She loves theater and adores the stage and is never, ever intimidated. I thought her future was clear.
Cadence is a lover of science and her head swirls with questions and hypothesis. She has created life lessons out of baby powder and water and sees relevance in everything. She is in perfect rhythm with nature and can often be seen rescuing moths, spiders and all sorts of small creatures that get trapped in our home. She cannot tolerate irresponsible loss of life, no matter how small and won an argument with her grandmother recently about defending the most despicable of God’s creatures…mosquitoes. “Every living thing has a right to live and a purpose for being here.” She maintains.
“What purpose could a mosquito possibly serve?” Grandmother offers in defense for killing the little blood suckers.
“They are food for the bats.” Cadence answers. Case closed. Clearly her future lies here.
From the time she could talk, she has always expressed herself. Boldly. Clearly. Often.
It never matters if her point challenges the receiver or goes against the grain. I have always told her that she was given two very specific gifts from God: a big voice and a kind heart. “They must always be used together.” I tell her, “A big voice without kindness can be harmful and a kind heart that stays quiet is not helpful. You are not afraid to speak up and it is your job if someone is being left out to stand up and say that everyone should be included.” It is a job she has embraced and has a collection of friends that are the peripheral of the popular crowd.
“I need to find a way to discuss these issues with people now.” I mention student council, which Cadence points out at this age is mainly a popularity contest and we settle on exploring the internet.
“I don’t think I will start out with Racism, she strategizes, because it so… what’s that word?”
“Controversial?” I suggest.
“Yes, controversial.” She answers. “I will start with something that most everyone agrees on first, like animal cruelty.” Start on common ground, I think. Brilliant.
“Eventually I would like to be able to speak to people all over the world to help them understand that we need to get along. I like to think of the world as one big family and we can’t speak for only part of our family and ignore the rest.” She says, confident that she can make a difference.
“You know that if you become a public spokesperson, those who disagree with you will try to tear you apart.” I say, fearing for her.
“Oh that’s no problem.” She smiles, “I can handle it.”
Yes I believe she can, I think.
Undoubtedly… her future is there.
photo by profiles.tigweb.org