• Jennifer Jackman White

I remember as a kid you were constantly asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" How refreshing were the days when possibilities were endless and every star seemed reachable. I wanted to be a zoologist, marine biologist, artist, and children's book author. That was it. My desires were crystal clear, I wanted nothing else.

Today, when I look into the curious and loving eyes of our own child, I delight in what his interests are now and will be when he gets a little older. Right now, he loves cars and to my delight is obsessed with picture books. He pulls us down so he can plop into our laps and open his favorite book about pumpkins. He likes to read together, find the hidden easter eggs, point to animals he knows and make their sounds, or make the silly faces looking back at him. If we are busy doing dishes or laundry, he will find a place to sit and read a book on his own (he's a year and a half, sometimes he'll even read the book upside down!). He will also throw a tantrum if he cannot reach "Mama's special books" (the ones I want to keep in our library un-bent, un-nibbled, or un-stained in spaghetti sauce and are saved for special occasions when hands are clean).

Magically, watching our little boy, I often think of myself when I was a little girl. I kind of forgot about her 'til now. I think of her as a sweet child that I want to reach out to now that I'm an adult. I find myself wanting to go back in time and reassure her that her adult self turned out just fine and is living the life she always dreamed of. Truth be told, I have been working as a designer in advertising for most of my adult life. However, this is exactly why I'm making picture books once again: I don't want to let her down. Children are so smart. If you have ever been a lost adult like me, listen to your 5-year-old self to remind yourself who you are and what you really love.

As I watch my own son play on the carpet in our family room with trucks, lions and picture books, I would want him (and all children) to grow up knowing: you are so, so loved. There is nothing we'd want more than to see you happy. Play, dream and never lose your sense of wonder. And you don't have to worry about this now, but when you are older know with focus, hard work and grit your dreams can come true. Our hearts are full when we see you shine, we will believe in you and support your dreams, always.

A few little mementos of my 5-year-old self I keep close to my heart: