A break from reality
A break from reality
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
“He could be the next Justin Bieber”, the talent show’s helper suggested, as she showed my son to his seat at the auditions. I pictured James hiding behind sunglasses as fans and paparazzi chase him out of restaurants and nightclubs. No, I thought, he probably won’t be. I’m just happy he’s exploring his own dreams. That’s why I offered to take him to the national reality show auditions.

I don’t doubt that he has potential, but it’s unlikely he’ll make a career out of it, statistically speaking. We sat in that audition room with dozens of acts and individuals whose talent was tangible and audible. They had the look, the skill, the drive and experience.

There was the vocal group with its glorious 8-part harmonies, riffing off a conversation with the interviewer. In the corner, a hip hop duo was practicing their moves with headphones on- only they could hear the music- twitching like animated store mannequins. A magician was clinging tightly to a basketful of doves, rolling a coin in his fingers. And my son sat among them, chewing contentedly on the sponsor’s chocolate bars.

I wasn’t trying to set him up for failure- far from it. He just wanted to try out the experience. And for a boy who used to fret to the point of tears for a public appearance as innocuous as class oral, this was a breakthrough.

He hadn’t thought too much about the outcome of the show, and the prize money, in the hundreds of thousands, he could only process by daydreaming how it could boost his Yu-Gi-Oh! card collection- he’s still a boy at heart.

Like the girl who pirouettes out of the cinema after watching a ballet movie, or the boy who karate chops the air after watching a kung-fu film, he was simply living a bigger version of the dream, one where the organized anxiety of maths exams and social pecking orders don’t matter so much- the dream where no matter what happens, you know you’ll survive the day, and fantasies are made real by simply believing them to be so.

That’s the way we like to do things. Yes, we have infernal responsibilities, but we know that life is made so much more lively by occasionally looking at an opportunity and saying, “You know, why the heck not?”

I love that about teens, that they often have this super-confidence about themselves. Yes, they may have insecurities, but they have the freedom to daydream.

In his head, he was being dropped into a stadium of adoring fans from a helicopter on a platform lit up by fireworks, but to me, he was the little boy in the hoody with the chocolate smears at the corners of his mouth, fidgeting and untethered from the banality of living from Monday to Friday.

I asked him if he thought he was going to win: “I don’t know, Dad, I just wanted to take part”.

What are your child’s daydreams about the future? Tell us about them at chatback@parent24.com, and you could win a R250 kalahari.com voucher.

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