Who's Dream is it, Anyway?

Last week I shared my experience walking with “The Professor” through his first significant rejection, and over the past week I have been working with him on his “new reality” plan for the coming year.

We are in the throes of finalizing his high school schedule, which adds another layer of urgency that I wish were avoidable. Nevertheless, he’s been a steadily selecting the options set before him.

The shift, for ALL of us, was focusing on a rather important but simple question…

“In the bigger picture, what REALLY matters?”
The Professor, you see, has a 10-year plan - one that he created 4 years ago, without parental prodding, at the ripe old age of 10. In my experience, this is highly unusual - especially given the “live in the moment” flavor of ADHD that courses through our family.

Four years ago, we were so busy trying to help the older two navigate (aka “survive”) school that this guy was on auto-pilot - a familiar theme for the siblings of those with ADHD. Common or not, it definitely has me feeling like we missed the bus every now and again.

So, when I asked the Professor what really matters to him, his answer was rock solid: "...getting into a major 4-year university to study & become an architect/engineer."

What really matters to me, as a parent, is helping him realize this dream. His dream.

What does that really mean?

If I've learned anything from parenting my other two, it means letting go of my OWN feelings and ambitions for him and helping him figure out (a)how deeply he wants this to happen and (b)what he needs to do to make things happen. Notice is said what HE needs to do.


He has decided his short-term goal is to boost his chances of making it into the STEM academy mid-high school, should a spot open up for him to apply. And if it doesn't, he's got a back-up plan for that as well.

This isn't my dog and pony show. I'm not going to college. He is. As much as I may want or expect the same for him, personal success can only come from within.


My job is simply to help him sort through what support he needs to get there and empower him to ask for it. And sometimes, that is REALLY hard.


If this whole MESA thing has taught him anything, it has brought home the value of staying nimble and curious, to follow his interests.


His Dad was right. It meant very little 10 days after receiving the rejection letter. And now, it means that he has the freedom to explore whatever classes look amazing and interesting and fun. Unencumbered curiosity. That's the space where dreams are built. And this dream is his. Not mine. I'm just lucky enough to be along for the ride.

Kate Barrett