There’s a famous picture of Bill Clinton meeting John Kennedy in 1963 (below right). Clinton, was just about to turn 17 and attended the White House as part of the American Legion boys nation program. Clinton would later say the brief moment had a profound impact on his life. I’d say so, he’d become President.
There’s one of Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe too (above left). Gretzky was 10, Howe was 44. The iconic photo, one of the most popular pictures Gretzky is asked to sign each year, happened when Mr Hockey paid a visit to Gretzky’s hometown of Brantford, Ont.
“We were standing there, Gordon grabbed his stick, actually put it around my throat,” Gretzky recalled. “Looking at the picture, I always thought the same thought: that he was nicer and bigger and better when I met him than what I thought he was going to be.”
I don’t know if I believe in destiny, but it’s pretty wonderful to look back and see the paths of the present and future crossing. Even more remarkable when you see the greatness that youth achieved after meeting their idols.
This weekend, I took my boys to see Wild Kratts. Chris and Martin Kratt have been fixtures on the children’s tv circuit for 20 years, first with Kratt’s Creatures, then Zoboomafoo, and now Wild Kratts.
Zacharie caught on to the show about 2 years ago while visiting his grandparents, and has been obsessed with animals ever since. He can riff off random factoids about zebras, caracals, kangaroos, and more.
The show is perfect for Zacharie’s empathetic nature. He loves the planet, thinks animals are the greatest thing ever and, if we would let him, would be a vegetarian in a heartbeat.
So with Zacharie’s love of the Kratt brothers, I bucked up for extra special VIP tickets to the Wild Kratts show as part of the Calgary International Children’s Festival this weekend. $60 a head got us down low and close for the show, and access to a special meet-and-greet afterwards where the boys could get photos and autographs.
So I wonder. Are these pictures with Chris and Martin the equivalent of the childhood pics Clinton and Gretzky took with their mentors?
Today, at 7, nearly 8, Zacharie loves animals. He loves learning about them and protecting them. He also loves making videos and being in front of the camera. Could I see him following a path to become an animal evangelist? Sure.
But I could also see him following the path of “Chris Commander Hadfield” and becoming an astronaut.
Or I could see him being like “my friend Nenshi” and becoming a community leader.
There’s one thing I don’t see Zacharie becoming: an NHL player winning the Stanley Cup. Sure, he’s met Sean Monahan
But he touched the Cup.
And he still won’t take up playing hockey.
Truth be told, I have no idea what Zacharie will do with his life. He may follow the path of one of these mentors, he may blaze his own trail.
It’s just my job to get my kids involved in as many different things as their hearts will stand. It’s my job to nurture an excitement in the world around them, and surround them with people who will inspire them to greatness.
That could be animal loving tv stars, an astronaut, a mayor, a hockey player or, most likely, someone we haven’t met yet.