A few months ago, when my 6 going on 7–year old was just a little over 5, I engaged the young lad in a conversation that I expected would leave me excited. But at the end of it, I was left in a deeply pensive state. Here’s what happened.

From age 3, my older son had displayed signs of his inborn talent and likely inclination – art, architecture, engineering and their not too distant relatives – animation, etc. which I realized from his love and unbelievable giftedness in drawing, coloring and building things. By age 7, he told me categorically “Mommy, when I grow up, I want to become an Architect and an Engineer!” And I was like “Woo hoooo!!! Slow down boy! Those are two separately TOUGH professions. You may have to choose one!” But then he insisted stating that he wanted to design and build structures. Through the years he has grown to be a genius in art and animation. But that’s a story for another day. This is about the younger boy.

So, on this fateful day, I asked the baby brother, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” His response, which I didn’t expect, left my heart racing and my mind puzzled.

“I don’t know.” He retorted non-chalantly. But of course I would press further. What does he mean by “he doesn’t know”? Didn’t his older brother decipher his probable inclination at just age 3 and is currently honing that skill? He’s already 5 and doesn’t know. He’s gotta be kidding with me. So I rephrased the question, considerate to think that it was probably his mind was too young to understand the context of the discussion.

“You know your brother loves to draw and is already a great artist for his age right?”

“Yes, I know he likes to draw!” he responded care freely.

“Ok, what about you? What do you REALLY (I emphasised this) love to do that you will continue to do in the future?

“Well, I really love to watch TV !” he responded enthusiastically with bright eyes and a slightly pitched voice. You bet I was not having any of this.

“Whaaaat?” I enquired to be sure of what I just heard.

“I love to watch TV. I love cartoons.”

“Jem-Jem, nobody watches TV for a living! How will you take care of yourself and your family when you grow up to become a man like daddy if you are going to watch TV all day? Mommy and Daddy will not always be there.” And then he dropped what I considered the worse of it yet.

“That’s why I don’t ever want to become an adult.”

“Don’t say that! You can’t be a baby forever. You’re supposed to grow up!”

“But I won’t know what to do!” he added now with some sadness in his voice.

“You will darling. That’s why mommy and daddy are sending you to school to learn all that you will require to become a better adult. You just need to put your heart to anything you want to do. No one ever knows it all at first, not even I nor daddy. We were once children like you too but we learn as we commit our heart to do whatever will help us to become what we desire for ourselves.”

“Ok.” he sounding unconvinced. So I hugged him tightly and dropped the subject for that day.

A few days later, the young lad runs to me with unbelievable excitement in his voice.

“Mommy I know what I want to be when I grow up!” My eyes lit up like the midday sun.

“Tell me sweetie!”


WHAAAAAAAT?!?!? Whatever is that?!?! My thoughts were racing in utter bewilderment. But I had to contain it so as not to frighten the young lad. Surely, kids will teach you a whole new level of emotional intelligence.

“Hahahahahahaha! Super heroes are not real darling! They don’t exist, I have told you that before!”

“Yes, Jem, superheroes are not real!” his big brother added.

“But I want to be like Hulk!” (his favourite animation character).

“Ah! Mogbe!” was all I could instantly utter, an exclamation to mean “I’m in trouble!” in the Yoruba language. “Superheroes are not real ooooo! Being a superhero is not a job.” Well, I asked, he discovered and had responded. Period! The rest was my cup of tea.

How do I manage this? What do I do? How do I get this little boy to take a leaf from his big brother?

A few weeks later, he comes back to me and says “Mommy, I want to be a Fire fighter!”

L’ori iro! (what a lie!) This boy is trying me. “Really? Fire fighter? Why a Fire fighter?”

“I want to be a Fire fighter when I grow up.” he emphasized.

Areeee!!! (a Yoruba exclamation) L’ori Nigeria yi sha? Ko si omi o! (meaning “In this Nigeria? There is no water o!) Is this young man playing with me? Hmmm… I won’t even indulge him in this conversation.

Not long after, it was going to be career day in their school. As soon as his teacher mentioned it to me, I just said “Game over! No more foreign cartoon-inspired superhero outfits. You will wear fila and agbada and be a native hero.”

“Mommy, our teacher said we should wear a costume for our career day. I want a Fire fighter costume!”

Ok, now I need to get to the root of this. No more tight hugs and adjournments. I have observed overtime that this young lad is actually an old soul at heart. So let’s talk it out.

“Ok Jem-Jem, why do you REALLY want to be a fire fighter?” His response completely melted my heart.

“Because I want to save people’s lives.”

Wooooah! I told you he was an old soul. His words were believable and something to begin working with. I got him the costume and helped him fine tune his lines for his presentation which he had drafted himself.

“Good day everyone. My name is Jermahl Kadiri. I am 5 years old. When I grow up I will like to be a fire fighter, to take out wild fires and save people’s lives and teach them how to be safe. Do you know how to be safe? Come, let Captain Jermahl show you.”


Proud mom moment. I made up my mind from that day that I will support his choice. Then I posted a video of his presentation on my social media platform but it was met with strict rebuff from some of my elders who said

“That’s not a good profession! Stop him from saying it now and redirect his words before it becomes too ingrained for him to change it.”

My response, an unflinching “NO!” If at age 5 he is already concerned about saving people’s lives, what could be a more laudable cause to live for?

Over the next few months, I saw my young man show concern for and participate in a mock fire fighter drill, first aid and hospital care. And he affirmed again “When I grow up, I want to help people and save lives”. Could this be a budding Paramedic, Medical Doctor, Army General or any of their relations? Could his GENIUS actually be “SUPERHERO”? Only time will tell. All I can do is to create enabling environments to progressively increase his awareness of self and society.

This revelation made me reflect. At his age, I wasn’t quite sure of what I wanted to become. I eventually did and was enthusiastic about it in my mid teenage years. I believed so strongly that it was my natural proclivity which I was genius at, but then the declaration of it brought down a storm and was redirected by loving caregivers who actually meant well from their level of awareness, but led me to bury the dream and focus on what would be more prestigious in society.

And so I progressed through life engaging as a muffled representation of myself until I eventually came around a few full circles and found the courage to embrace my genius and unashamedly affirm that “THIS IS ME!”

Is this a similar situation for you? Have you embraced and are you engaging with your authentic self?


Unveil it, Review it, Redefine it and RELAUNCH WITH IT!



  • Tolulope Akinlolu


    12 July 2021 at 11:47 PM

    Amazing young man you are Jermahl! You are indeed a Superhero academically and socially. Keep thinking big. Well done StephREDD for being a mum that listens.

  • Abisola Fadairo


    3 July 2021 at 2:08 PM

    Go Jem-Jem!

    Our very own Superhero… Well done, StephREDD!… your penmanship is admirable.

  • Ogechi Okwechime


    3 July 2021 at 7:52 AM

    Awwww so good i read it like i was physically there..Yes Jem…. Superheros exist and being a firefighter is as good as being a medical doctor or pilot.. they are all saving lives.. brave child!



    3 July 2021 at 6:07 AM

    Great piece StephREDD and keep on inspiring people.

  • Oyinade Seweje


    2 July 2021 at 9:23 PM

    Yaaay!! I feel blessed to have read this Write-Up. Wow! Perhaps most of us did journey through this same road where we had to bury our genius along the way. The blessed Boy in this true-life story has taught me one of the Most Beautiful Attainable Possibilities. I MUST SEE ME. I MUST BE ABLE TO SAY TO YOU “What you see is what you get!”. THIS IS ME. THE VERY BEST VERSION OF MYSELF.

    • Joy Umasabor


      3 July 2021 at 11:59 AM

      Lovely piece dear. Truly we all have to learn to look within and fulfil God’s purpose for us. Thanks a bunch.

    • Tobe Godson


      6 July 2021 at 12:06 AM

      Great to see that Jermahl already has a heart of gold filled with passion for helping others. The good news is that it will serve him well, no matter what path he eventually chooses.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about his career path right now. We are basically trying to prepare our kids for an unknowable future using outdated education systems – so we really have no idea what they will become because their careers may not even have been invented yet.

      Embrace the journey, and teach them how to learn and adapt, and they will be okay.

  • Omoefe SIAKPERE


    2 July 2021 at 9:08 PM

    These shared experiences are a re-affirmation that I am not alone. Thanks, StephREDD, for sharing.

    • Sophia Otobor


      3 July 2021 at 4:52 AM

      If we search deep within we will find what we are really called to be.
      For some it comes natural for others comes with deep reflection. This is what I have learnt from this. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. Truly inspiring. May we receive grace not to shy away from our Genius.

    • Joy Akintoye


      3 July 2021 at 9:47 AM

      A very captivating piece…Well done Steph



    2 July 2021 at 7:27 PM

    Thank you for this write up. Indeed it is most needed as an opener in modern day parenting.

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