I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m afraid all this “what do you want to be when you grow up?” stuff is a bad idea. On one hand, I get it. It’s a fun, harmless question. Kids come up with some pretty funny answers. When he was 3 my oldest said he wanted to be a donut maker and a diver, in that order. At 5, he likes science and dogs, so perhaps a career in veterinary medicine is in the cards. But then again, maybe not. Why do we feel the need to saddle kids with a future profession so early?
If early inclinations are any measure, my toddler son—who is so fond of removing his clothes—has a future as an exotic dancer. (BTW, my brother had a friend in college who was a Chippendale dancer. I swear. As a mom of boys, I now find that completely degrading and disturbing and wonder what the heck his parents were smoking. But I have to admit that as a hormone-addled teenage girl, I thought it was cool. This boy was like Rob Lowe-cute, people.)
I think it’s funny that just because most of us adults are obsessed with what people do for a living, we project that onto our kids. One time when my husband was grumbling about some work woes he said, “I just want our boys to be proud of me.”
“Hon, those kids wouldn’t care if you were a garbage collector. They ARE proud of you and they love you because you’re their dad. They could care less what you do for a living.”
C. thought for a minute and said, “They’d actually probably be MORE proud of me if I were a garbage collector.” He’s got a point. Garbage men get to ride around on the back of a truck and don’t have to wear seatbelts.
Besides, most kids don’t even know what their parents do. Mine think I grocery shop for a living. Every time I pick them up at school they say, “What’d you get at the store, Mom?” As for my husband, he’s brought the boys into his office a few times. Ask them what Daddy does at work and they say, “He eats candy and talks on the phone.”
But leave it to a kid to cut through the b.s. and give you a reality check. One day my older son completely blew us away when he said, “When I grow up I want to be a dad. I’ll adopt a kid who doesn’t have a home.” (We didn’t even know he knew what adoption was.)
“Oh, yeah? That’s great, buddy. You’ll make a great dad.”
He smiled. “I know.”
I can’t think of anything better I’d rather have my son be when he grows up. And I will make SURE that the only bowtie he ever wears is with a shirt, at his wedding!
LINK O’ THE DAY: A related post from my archives, on why “Being a Grown-Up is Overrated.”