When I was 8 years old I told my teacher I wanted to be a writer, not just any writer but the new Enid Blyton. Aged 12 I told my teachers I wanted to be a journalist. Having not changed my mind in the intervening years at 16 years old I told my careers teacher I still wanted to be a journalist.
He said: “Don’t be daft you’ll never do that, it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Journalism’s not for the likes of us.”
Just a few months later I left school at 16 and became a secretary. I spent a few years temping and travelling before I got pregnant with teenboy.
Aged 22 and pregnant I found a new journalism course starting in a couple of months. I applied, wrote an essay, sat the tests, aced the interviews and was accepted.
I then had to come clean and tell them I was 5 months pregnant and couldn’t start the course in a month. One of the lecturers said: “I wondered if you might be pregnant cos when we were interviewing you your stomach kept moving. But you can’t ask, can you?”
I started chasing my childhood dream the following year.
Once qualified I broke stories that changed people’s lives, changed laws, exposed scandals, lies and frauds as well as told the stories of the good people so often do. I loved every second of it, going back to work when Teengirl was just a few weeks old.
It all ended, however, when Teengirl suffered a brain haemorrhage at 9 months old and wasn’t expected to survive and I ran out words.
But I never ran out dreams…
As a little boy teenboy wanted to be a pilot, a train driver, a lorry driver. He was obsessed with all forms of transport. Unfortunately he still is as any of you who’ve read this blog know!
Now at 22 his dream is and has been for a few years to be a film maker and editor. Film-editing being his preferred profession.
Thankfully because we live in the UK teenboy got into Uni three years ago and graduated in summer 2015 with a 2:1 degree in Film and TV Production. Currently he’s got three jobs: working in a bar, teaching filmmaking and occasionally filming and editing for a start-up YouTube channel.
But he’s not finished there; he still has plans, big plans. And I think, given a few years, he’ll fulfil them.
When my princess tomboy was a little girl she wanted to be a vet during the week and an artist at the weekend.
At 17 those dreams have evolved slightly. Right now she’s studying for a BTEC in computer game design and already has a GCSE in this.
She’s not sure if she wants to study this at Uni, she quite fancies trying her hand at photo journalism or perhaps fine art or maybe political journalism or creative writing. But then again she might not even go to Uni and train as a tattoo artist or a scuba diving instructor. Who knows! She has so many opportunities at her feet it’s hard to decide. But she’s just 17 she shouldn’t know what she wants to do for sure yet. She’s still got plenty of time for dreaming.
Right now he wants to be an alien! And a lot of the time he wants to be a Lego builder or designer. Big impossible dreams you may say. I say the bigger more imaginative the dream the better. And while he’s reaching for the moon he might just hit a star.
What’s amazing for my children is that the world is their oyster and they know it. They can do whatever they want as long as they can dream.
International children’s charity the Railway Children help vulnerable children who live alone and are at risk on the streets at home in the UK and abroad. It urgently needs to expand its work in East Africa where thousands of street-connected children are at risk of violence, abuse, exploitation and prostitution.
For 7-year-old Joseph who lives alone on the streets of Nairobi in Kenya every day is a matter of life and death. He doesn’t know what he’ll when he grows up. He doesn’t know if he’ll grow up. He has no need for dreams.
The Railway Children are fighting to save children like Joseph to give them a future. Once these children are safe and well-cared for and back in school, they do have dreams and ambitions, just like any other child.
You can help these children by donating to the #ifIgrowup appeal at www.ifigrowup.org.uk where until 22 January 2016, all donations to Railway Children’s If I grow Up campaign will be doubled by the UK government, helping them reach twice as many children. Proceeds from the appeal will fund Railway Children’s vital work in the UK and abroad; match-funding from the UK government will fund work in East Africa.