I was fortunate this past weekend to meet one of my favorite celebrities, Nichelle Nichols. My fellow sci-fi geeks know her better as Lt. Uhura of the Star Ship enterprise.
And it got me thinking (hold on everyone!) about my son and who his “heroes” will be. Who will he look up to (other than mommy and daddy I hope) and what will his reasons be? This is a worry for me. I look at the “celebrities” today and wonder why on earth some of them are famous. I look at the behavior of many (thankfully not all) athletes and hope my child won’t emulate them. As much as I enjoy most music myself, I hear the lyrics and plan not to expose my son to those songs.
I hope my son finds leadership that is worthy of his admiration. I hope to provide parenting that gives him a solid foundation and something positive for him to compare the actions and attitudes of others to. I plan to teach him about innovators and scientists and the forgers of paths.
This also means that I need to be selective about who I allow him to spend his time with. I already see the actions and hear the words of children at his pre-school and must consider who I do and do not want him to have playdates with outside of the classroom environment. Those attitudes come from their parents and my child is already bringing home words that he doesn’t hear from us. I prefer not to intentionally expose him to the things I don’t want him to adopt.
In choosing a caregiver like a babysitter, nanny or au pair I must also look at their personalities, hobbies, interests and select those I think can help me to guide him. Someone who will support me in my choices for him, like exposure to television, video games, books, music and yes, even other children – especially those with behavioral issues that my child could easily pick up and bring home (tantrums, language, physical aggression).
I know I can’t bubble wrap him, but I hope I can show him and provide him with things that he can use to measure all other things – good habits, positive attitude and language, good books, quality music and lessons about the people who deserve admiration.
So, how did Nichelle Nichols, my beloved Lt. Uhura, get me thinking about all of this? Did you know that she sang with Duke Ellington? Did you know that she was one of the first African American television characters who did not play a servant? When she considered quitting the Star Trek, Martin Luther King. Jr. himself convinced her to stay because he knew she was part of changing history.
Nichols volunteered with NASA as part of a special program to encourage female and minority women into the agency. She has an asteroid named after her.
She had a stroke last year, but she still gets out there to meet her fans and say hello. And I for one am so glad, because this woman is worthy of admiration and it was a true privilege to meet her. And sure, she’s a star, and sure I’m a total sci-fi geek, but there is more to her than Lt. Uhura and more to my admiration than the fact that she crewed my favorite spaceship.
I hope I can help my child find people who are deeper than they may appear to be on the surface. I hope he will grow to understand the layers that make up people. And I hope he will choose his heroes wisely.