Though I have no empirical evidence to prove it, it seems to me, parents today have their kids’ futures plotted out for them. It’s as if parents are more concerned with filling out their babies’ resumes before they fill out their birth certificates. Kids aren’t allowed to dream anymore. Before they can figure out how to use the potty, their parents have them in all day soccer camps, or learning another language, or have them wearing more make up than the Joker and parading around a stage with a tiara on. What happened to asking our kids what they wanted to be when they grow up?
When I was around my kids’ age, I was asked that very question by my teacher. We were to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. What I came up with was, what I thought, a very convincing reason for being Captain America.
I know what you’re saying, where was a 3rd grader going to score some Super Soldier serum and Vita Rays? All I can say to that is, I was in 3rd grade; I was just worried about where to get a shield to protect me against the Red Skull (I ended up making one at home).
I read my paper to my Mom to which she responded, “That’s great! I think you’d make a great Captain America.” For some time I was convinced I could be the Star Spangled Avenger. If my Mom believed I could, then why shouldn’t I? My dream of becoming Cap died out when I outgrew my Captain America Underoo’s. But that didn’t stop me from moving on to the next thing. I went through my firefighter phase. Policeman, Astronaut, and Comic book artist phase. I even thought about becoming Indiana Jones, until I found out archaeologists carry tooth brushes and tiny hammers not bullwhips and pistols. But with each idea, my Mom always encouraged me. She never scoffed. She never laughed. She helped me to believe in working towards my goals, whether it was to be a teacher, salesmen, or Captain America.
So I asked my kids. I was curious to see if they had given any thought to what they wanted to be when they grow up? This is what they told me:
Hannah, my 8 year old:
Work at Wendy’s (I can only assume for the discount on Frostee’s)
Lifeguard at a pool
Professional Soccer player
Veterinarian (even knowing she might have to work with snakes)
I was stunned. At her age I still thought girls had cooties and if I stared at something long enough I could pick it up with the Force. My daughter has laid out her future in meticulous detail. She is more prepared for life than I am today.
Emma, my 5 year old:
Now I wasn’t expecting Hannah’s calculated plans for the future, but I thought maybe she would have given me Teacher or Doctor? Instead I got rock star. And when she told me, she made sure to jump up on to the coffee table in our living room and sing her answer to me (to be honest, she plays a mean air guitar already). I think Emma’s list solidifies two things. 1. She is way too young to worry about these types of things and 2. I think we all know who she takes after in our family.
My kids have lots of time to figure out what they want to be when they grow up (I’m still working on it myself) which is why, when I hear their answers, I respond the same way my Mom did to me, “That’s great!” Because I’m not here to push my kids in my direction; I’m here to push them in a direction. I’m glad to have them dream, to change their minds, and to change their minds again. And who knows, maybe one day they will be a veterinarian, or lifeguard, or Wendy’s employee, or rock star, or even Captain America (I know where they can get the shield).