“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I am pretty sure it’s the second most asked question of children, right after “Where is your nose?” That’s quite a jump, when you think about it. From locating a random body part to planning a career, in the blink of an eye. And both before you even learn to feed yourself.
I wanted to be a doctor. Except for the blood and the math and stuff. Apparently math is necessary in medical school, and you have to be able to find “X”. Don’t know where it is and don’t care, so there goes the medical career.
At some point I wanted to be a musician. This was evidenced by my trying to learn every instrument in the band, and mastering none, although I finally did learn to play a reasonably good saxophone. I gained a new appreciation for what my parents and grandparents went through, attending all of those elementary band concerts. It’s an entire room full of parents all praying at once for the Rapture, so that they don’t have to listen to one. more. song. Elementary choir concerts run a close second. Every child in the choir (including the boys) sings soprano, except for that one girl whose voice changed last week and she’s singing bass and trying not to look self-conscious. The wild applause at the end has nothing to do with the actual performance–everyone is just glad that it’s over, and hoping that there won’t be an encore.
Once, for a very short time, I wanted to be a pastor. Please don’t ask me why. I am pretty sure that even God laughed at that one. I have a fear of speaking in front of people that is literally paralyzing. When I was a senior in high school, I had to give a speech at the end of the year. I begged my teacher to let me tape it, or do it for her privately, and she would not cooperate. I stood up in front of the class, started to cry and ran from the room. Most churches prefer that the pastor be able to actually get up there and say something profound. Fortunately I realized pretty quickly that preaching wasn’t my gift. Neither was being a ballet dancer (no coordination what. so. ever.), a pilot (one good eye, and it’s questionable), a singer (Oh Sweet Jesus. Just. NO.) and a whole lot of other careers that involved talents that I didn’t possess. (And before you pop up and get all “But coordination isn’t really a TALENT, I beg to differ. In our family, it’s a talent. I can assure you that all of those singers on “American Idol” have not worked nearly as hard at learning to sing as my sister and I have at learning to walk across a room without needing medical attention on the other side. It’s a talent, people.)
We ask our children to make a decision about the rest of their lives at the age of 18. When I was 18, I shouldn’t have been choosing what to have for breakfast. I slept with my teddy bear until I got married. I probably would have slept with him longer, but he made Dan nervous. I’ve been married for 23 years, raised three children (and am well on my way to getting the fourth one reasonably raised), done a bunch of stuff that was never on my radar…and I still don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up. I have a lot of questionable skills now (I can plan a graduation ceremony in three days and run a week-long camp for junior high kids playing only games that involve food, including but not limited to octopus, ketchup, mustard and chocolate syrup), but the market for these amazing abilities is kind of limited here in the US. For one thing, I am pretty sure that PETA would have a conniption if they found out that I can organize a volleyball game where the ball is an actual octopus. Yeah. I’ve got skills.
I have a lot of experience. And a degree that says that I know some stuff about some stuff. Maybe, someday, when I finally grow up, I will know what I want to do. Until then, I will just keep learning stuff about stuff, and see what happens.
“People give you a hard time about being a kid at twelve. They didn’t want to give you Halloween candy anymore. They said things like, “If this were the Middle Ages, you’d be married and you’d own a farm with about a million chickens on it.” They were trying to kick you out of childhood. Once you were gone, there was no going back, so you had to hold on as long as you could.”
― Heather O’Neill