Jazz Keyes, right, and her six-year-old daughter Hanadie are both authors and entrepreneurs.
By JAZZ KEYES
Special to South Florida Times
“Stop asking your children what they want to be when they grow up. This line of questioning implies that they must wait until adulthood to experience success! Instead, ask them what they want to be right now in this very moment. As a parent/guardian, it’s our job to ensure that nothing feels too big for their little hands to hold. It’s our duty to ensure they know that if no one else in the world believes in them, we do!” -Jazz Keyes
The above quote is the philosophy I use to guide and govern my parenting decisions. This mantra is especially valuable when I am attempting to support the ever-growing, ever-changing imagination of my six-year-old daughter, Hanadie.
“Mommy, I want to be an astronaut. I want to go into space.” This was the statement of my four-year-old a couple years ago. We sat at the dinner table and I watched as she grew increasingly animated in her dialogue. She had fallen in love with astronomy. It was in that moment I decided that I would never allow her eagerness to be muffled or ignored. As her mother, I felt a deep obligation to empower her to believe she was deserving of the world. I wanted her to never question if she was worth the things her heart desired. From that day forward, I made the conscious decision that I would do everything I could to nurture her creative power.
“What about if you could be an astronaut right now?” I asked.
The bewildered expression on her face subsided and enthusiasm consumed her. She was going to be the first four-year-old astronaut.
The following afternoon we set out on our adventure. First, we stopped by the local toy store. There, I purchased her a telescope and a children’s book about space and the planets.
Next, we drove around and confiscated every tossed out cardboard box from the surrounding department stores. Our last destination was the craft store.
There we stocked up on stickers, glue and glitter.
It was not only my mission as a mother to see to it my child felt empowered to imagine grand things, but also ensure that she felt supported in her pursuit of her dreams.
We spent two hours that evening constructing her spaceship. We sat on the balcony and watched the stars and the moon through her telescope. Right before bedtime, we climbed into our spaceship and blasted off to the moon.
For two weeks, she was an astronaut. That was her dream until she realized she had a love for animals. We spent three months performing the most advanced surgeries on her stuffed animal with a Doc McStuffins stethoscope and medical kit.
Fast forward two years, my six-year is a now a kid chef, an entrepreneur, a community volunteer, and an author. In April 2017, she published her first book, “Hanadie and Teddy’s First Day of School.”
“If you can write for big people, then I can write books for kids.”
This was the declaration she made one night after watching me sit at my desk for hours working on my articles and my book.
Her language was powerful. She was a child who no longer felt the need to ask anyone for permission to pursue her goals. She had already decided that writing a book was something she was going to do and no one could stop her. I smiled as I witnessed her speak with the confidence that took me over 20 years to develop.
As we prepare to launch our mommy-daughter book tour in June, I find myself stirring with excitement. I have the most intimate view of this miraculous child’s progression.
Every day I watch with astonishment. She is maturing into an uninhibited and vibrant spirit with an infectious laugh, natural inclination to lead and a heart for people. A once meek and silent child now screams, “Who is going to stop me?” with conviction in her voice. She is a warrior who backs down to no one and I love that about her.
I constantly instill in my child the value of hard work. She recognizes that while there are no parameters casing-in her greatness, she plays a vital role in her own success.
The next six months of our lives will be a whirlwind. As we prepare to travel from state to state promoting and sharing our books with the world, we are most thrilled about the amount of time we get to spend with one another.
In between the events, interviews, book signings and brand building, we get to be mommy and daughter. For us that means being completely obnoxious, trying new and adventurous activities, sneaking off in the middle of the night for milkshakes and capturing our precious moments on camera.
We are best friends and that is a relationship I pour into with devotion. I want her to know that she has someone in her corner fighting day in and day out just so she can know joy more than she knows sorrow.
I am not sure if she plans to stay in the culinary and creative writing field or if she has plans to pursue other careers. What I do know is that at six she knows that she is unstoppable.
If anyone were to ask me what my biggest parenting accomplishment to date is, I would tell them it is knowing that I am raising a child who has no ceilings, no barriers, no limits and no fears.
Everything she speaks will manifest with hard work, diligence and the will power to push through obstacles.
As I celebrate my sixth Mother’s Day I am naturally overwhelmed with emotions. I gave breath to a god and she is supreme and divine in every way. I have already started the process of releasing my need to have ownership over this brilliant mind.
The reality is, I am her mother, but she is a child that was birthed with a purpose to influence and alter the world in a magnificent way. I am just blessed to be the vessel chosen to bring forth such power!
Jazz Keyes is a clinical psychologist, certified life coach, author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker. Recognized for her work as an empowerment specialist, Keyes has spent over a decade using her career to inspire others. Her writings have been published in EBONY, JET, Black and Married with Kids (BMWK) and more. Her first book, “If We Knew Better: Soul Cries of Women Past and Present” will be released this summer. Learn more about Keyes by visiting www.jazzkeyes.com.