Ru-dy! Ru-dy! Ru-dy! My sons (7 & 8 years old at the time) watched the TV screen with big smiles on their faces cheering on Rudy. Tyler, my oldest, fell in love with the tradition and the mystique of Notre Dame. In the movie “Rudy” the main character struggles to achieve his dream of playing football for Notre Dame after attempting, and failing, several times to be accepted into the school. Tyler was rooting for Rudy all through the movie and as the ending credits were rolling is when my son said, “I want to go to Notre Dame!” We have always expressed to our boys that with hard work and commitment they can achieve anything.
Dreams and goals are important to have at any age. However, they seem to be that much more magical when a child has a dream or a goal. With those dreams and goals, will come people that lend support and others that try to shoot those dreams down. After a recent experience my son Tyler had in middle school, I thought I would share.
It was a typical Friday afternoon and I was picking up my middle schooler from school. He got in the car and I asked him the usual questions.
Me: How was your day? Do you have any homework?
Son: No HW but our counselor met with us today to discuss goals for the future.
I thought this was great that counselors are meeting with the students to develop their goals for the future. Any parent would love that! He talked with his counselor and it went something like this.
Counselor: What are your main goals and are you considering going to college?
Son: First goal is to go to Notre Dame, second to get an athletic scholarship, and third maybe play Major League Baseball!
Counselor: You know, you should try to choose a more realistic attainable goal.
Son: No, I am going to Notre Dame. I know that I have to work hard and get good grades to do so.
Needless to say I was disappointed and vexed that a school counselor could say that to one of her students. I wanted to go to the school and talk to her about the situation. The conversation continued with my son.
Me: What!! So let me understand. She wants you to have a realistic goal. You know that she is completely out of her mind! You can go to Notre Dame! I need to go talk to this counselor and let her know what’s up.
Son: You know mom it’s no big deal. I know I will go to a big college and when I do, I will make sure that my counselor knows this and hopefully my counselor will not say this to another kid.
Me: What she said to you is wrong and really a counselor should be supporting your goals. I’m glad you understand how what she said is completely inappropriate and not true.
As much as I wanted to, I did not confront the school or the counselor about this. Tyler asked me not to and I realized that he gets it and is able to communicate and handle situations in an appropriate way.
Is it realistic for a Hispanic boy to want to go to Notre Dame? What is a realistic goal? And who decides what is realistic and what an attainable goal should be? I believe it cannot be decided by anyone but the person who establishes their own goal. The reality is that my son knows what he wants and what he has to do to get there. What he learned from this is that there will be people who will get in your way and do not believe in you and the bottom line is believe in yourself. So I leave you with this Tyler, be proud of who you are, who you are becoming and as the Notre Dame motto goes “Play Like a Champion.”