Parenting Blog

Quick Thoughts: What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

Ballerina. Veterinarian. Teacher.  Singing Waitress.

It’s awfully difficult to stifle the chuckles when my girls spout off about what they want to be when they grow up.  I mean, seriously, a singing waitress???  Does that even offer a 401(k)?

Encouragement is of course provided regardless of how far-fetched the proposed dream career, because even I, a proudly cynical S.O.B., am not going to rain on my or any kid’s parade.  Okay, to be perfectly truthful I’d kinda like to play Debbie Downer to some kids – the rotten ones – but definitely not mine.   I’m totally not willing to break the harsh news to little Brittany, let alone to my Bear, that they’ll probably first end up a Wallgreen’s cashier before spending years 26-33 toiling away in a cubicle inside a hermetically sealed and nondescript office building finding daytime joy only when a coworker brings in coffee and bagels on a day they forgot to eat breakfast.

Aah, modern life.

The odds of our children achieving their planned childhood dream careers are slim.  How many ballerinas can possibly be gainfully employed at any given moment?  The deck is stacked against ’em ever earning a paycheck for work that brings even the slightest amount of glee.

Sad, but true I fear.

1.87%.  That’s the percentage of folks who can honestly say they draw a straight-ish line between plan and passion and employment. [fictional statistic]

Look at what I’m doing to earn my keep ’round the OWTK palace: writing a dad blog & designing goofy t-shirts.  I most certainly did not prance about my parent’s house in my diaper telling tall tales of the fun I’d someday have interviewing Laurie Berkner, or making this sweatshirt.   I couldn’t have imagined this life for myself 5 years ago let alone 25 years ago.  It wasn’t my dream, but it’s all kinds of dreamy.  Sometimes the best plan is to throw your best plan out the damn window.

[Eric Stoltz’s character has a great line in my favorite movie “Kicking & Screaming“.  He poses the question “How do you make God laugh?”.  The answer: “Make a plan”.  Even a non-religious fella can appreciate that one.]

As you suppress the laughter when your kids talk about their future as an astronaut, spend a minute thinking about your own path.  Where did you want to be?  Where are you know?  Are those things close…can they be closer?

Listen up: The fruit of your loins may very well find themselves in an apron ringing up Viagra prescriptions refills, cotton balls and mascara but I still contend that we owe it to our kids to not only provide a roof, meals and such, but to also set an example that, hell yes you can be whatever you want…or at least try to be…or at least see where a path might take you, and that you can love what you do and not have to live in squalor to make it so.   It might also serve them well to know that real adventure often comes when you get off the highway a few exits early.  Oh, that reminds me of another related quote!  We saw Michael Cooper – The Masked Marvel during the last WCU Live! season.  At the end of his show, after the applause, he stopped walking around on his ridiculously high stilts to speak directly to the kids in the crowd in a sort of live-action PSA.  He remarked that despite the reaction from many adults in their life, a kid can be a performer/director/set designer/etc; that they can take a shot at a life in the arts.  That regardless of the public perception to the contrary, you don’t have to be famous or on TV to make a living in the entertainment biz and pointed to himself as a perfect example of this.  He’d been working as a mask maker and performer for 30 years, has a family, loves what he does, and doesn’t struggle to do it.  Yet he isn’t even close to being a household name.  Another round of applause followed.  Hopefully it originated from every single kid that’ll someday thumb their nose at their parents’ sensible advice and go for it.

You gotta think that being taught to appreciate the crooked road to true happiness and also growing up witnessing the adults in their life striving for a dream of their own is bound to be more meaningful to children in the long-run than a tussle of their hair and a halfhearted “of course you can be a dancing doctor when you grow up, sweetie”.

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