Mermaid Dreams

Earlier this summer, a six-year-old  girl from my son’s class came to visit.  She told me what she wants to be when she grows up.  (I don’t remember asking that dreaded question.  I remember how awkward it was to answer when I was a child!)

“I want to be a mermaid who swims with cats,” she said.


Mermaid stamp from “Stampendous!”


“A mermaid!” I replied, taken aback.  The poor dear, I thought.  She doesn’t know that mermaids aren’t real or that cats hate water.

As I searched for words to validate her whimsical dream, a summer memory from my childhood emerged.

“You can!” I exclaimed.  “If you substitute a pig for the cats.”

I hadn’t thought of it in years!  In the late 1980s my mother and uncle had taken my sisters and me to Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas, on our way to South Padre Island.  In addition to glass-bottom boats, there had been an underwater theater.  My sisters and I had watched the aquarium, mesmerized, as mermaids had an underwater tea party.  Near the end of the show, a swimming pig named Ralph dove in to join them!

I told the little girl all about it.  She looked confident, as if she’d known all along her dream was possible.  “Yes, but I’m going to do that with cats,” she said.

A few weeks later, a five-year-old girl from Switzerland came to visit us.  She, too, offered up her hopes for her future.  Looking exactly like an Eloise Wilkin’s illustration, she said, “I want to be a fluffy unicorn that jumps over rainbows.”  This time I was ready.  I smiled big, nodded, and pondered the wonder of childhood.

P.S.   I looked up Aquarena Springs and confirmed my recollections with the video below.  Sadly, the underwater theater has been demolished.  Ah, but the magical memories . . .

4 thoughts on “Mermaid Dreams

  1. I had fun reliving the old, sweet memories this post brought back. I went to Aquarena Springs with my family when I was a little girl, then took our girls back when they were young.
    Isn’t the imagination and magic of childhood a beautiful thing? Everyone can recall a magical moment they will never forget.
    Thank you, CarolI can’t believe you found that video!

    • Yes, these sweet young dreamers make our children’s book dreams seem entirely practical! I wish you “six-year-old confidence” in your endeavors!

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