Sep

29

 Disney parks must be judged through the eyes of a young dreamer. The success of the Princess line of dreams for the toddler set of girls is in sharp contrast to the heroes offered up to the young boys. Perhaps the poor boys last hope is become a pandering President from Hall of Presidents.

Perhaps the pendulum has swung from the days of my youth and before. Before my time when Disney's Davy Crocket was the rage, coonskin caps enabled trappers to continue to make a living many years after their trade would have otherwise dwindled. Swiss Family Robinson inspired several failed attempts by my older brother and me to build a canoe. And I remember fondly The World Greatest … series and Herbie series that seemed to appear in theaters every summer. While I Dream of Jeanie and I Love Lucy occasionally crossed the line to demeaning, it certainly made clear that women can be silly. While now Tim Allen and Tom Hanks supply the laughs, juxtaposed with the women's punch-lines. The women's lines all are through sarcasm, more complete common sense and superiority in minds and romantic motives. It has been a few years for me, since we have been to Disney and I have only daughters, but it is clear to me then that dreams are hard to come by for today's sons.

This of course can now be seen as more women graduate from college than men. The link is a few years old, but I believe a more up to date analysis of the statistics would prove the problem is worse. If you add to this additional stress factor such as poor, black or Hispanic discrepancy between women and men graduates becomes a crisis to some communities. Disney is of course just selling the ideas that has the world in its grip as Vic says. Yet study after study shows that the parents involvement in the kids academics makes the difference. Dads must learn to become more active in their son's dreams to help the dream survive.

Disney's success largely comes from kids natural ability to dream. As a kid everything imaginable is obtainable. A parents job, in my estimation, largely is to keep that dreaming spirit alive but also to mature it so the teen learns to adapt evolve and develop the dreams to turn them into reality.

Kids rather quickly now a days out grow Disney. Yet there again, if you look closely at the "princesses" and the merchandise for sale at the park, it is clear that girls are allowed to fantasize longer than the boys. I would suggest that Dad's indulge their sons dreams well past their peers especially not just in sports. The evolution of the dream, in my estimation the second stage, however, seems not to nearly be as natural for parents of today's youth. Next year both my daughters will be teens. The world is full of narcissistic teens where participation trophies and parents routinely go through social upheaval to get the kids at every practice. Then both must watch them sit over half the game on the bench. This is the new norm. My mother was dead set against her scrawny teen participating in distance running. But she did countless times tell me I was "brilliant" and talented in many aspects. But she also made it clear that being poor, being a fundamentalist preacher's kid and being a runt meant I had to try harder than anybody else to get past their first impression. Consequently I only ran a few Junior high races. I did not train at all until I was at college. Started running as a freshmen at Liberty U on my own. Walked on the team as a sophomore and barely made it. But by the time I graduated with a year of eligibility left I was good enough that my coach at Liberty would not let me use it, if I transferred. I did come back the next year at Virginia Tech and smoked everyone on the Liberty team, with times that would have been a LU record back then. I say this to show that: 1. To get kids to put forth effort, you have to let them know they can fail. True success only comes from negotiating a brutal survival of the fittest world. 2. That as a parent you believe in them, you see their potential and want them to succeed. But you can not want it for them. 3. That as parent, you do not get to choose what the kids are passionate about. It maybe hard to accept, but they know themselves better than you do. And if you taught them faith in themselves tempered with the necessity but not sufficiency of total effort than whatever they are passionate about will make them succeed. These steps would seem somewhat self evident to me. But as a parent, there seems to be little direction in how to achieve these goals in daughters let alone sons. Though I did not qualify for the USA Marathon Olympic Trials until 1996, physically, at 30, I was most capable during the 1992 Olympic,. Around the 92 Olympics I set almost all my personal best time in every other distance but the marathon. The 92 Marathon Trials had a much weaker field than any since then. Based on my 20 mile split (1:42 and change) in the LA marathon, trying to qualify, it would appears that I had a realistic possibility to have made the 92 Olympic team. If I had only learned how to run through "The Wall" that hits racers near 20 miles. But I crashed and burned. With a few more years of experience, to go with the physical development, and who knows what could have been.

Not to say my parents did not do a great job overall in helping me keep my dreams alive and to go all out for them. But to show potential and fine line of nurturing a dream. And a little more understanding of the process of dreaming who knows what the next generation is capable.

With a bright 16 year old daughter trying many shoes to see how they fit, I now find myself on the other end of the nurturing a kid's dream. She has my spunk and determination to make it in something, but she is not sure what yet. She has a beautiful voice and loves music, but is totally put off by the HS music scene. She loves biology, (she likes science yet hates the math), she reads and devours US history. But perhaps her passion and much free time is spent in writing. How could I help her get a coach/ mentor for writing? Expertise appreciated.

Jeff Watson comments:

Still, when I hear "It's a Small World After All" it evokes the emotions that I felt when I was a six year old and first saw it the first time. Same thing with the display, "This is the ways the birdies sing, tweet, tweet, tweet….." Those still get to me 48 years later. Although I denigrate Disney due to the damage they have done to Florida, those timeless pieces still get to me…but then again I'm a sentimental fool.

Mr. Krisrock comments:

You are talking about themes the original Walt Disney enshrined. Right now, DIS is about PC…and super liberal causes that will never survive the test of time…just like Obama's ideas won't.


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