I distinctly remember being very small and encountering adults who would bend way down to interrogate me about my future career path: “So, what do YOU want to be when you grow up?”
I always felt a little terrified when asked this question – like, if I gave the wrong answer, I would be obligated to work in that profession forever. So I often tossed out a bunch of options, just in case my conspiracy theory was accurate. If I recall correctly, my choices were usually a veterinarian, a famous actress or singer, and finally, Wonder Woman. This last one was a wild card, but hey, in my mind it could happen. And that’s the point. I really believed in all of these possibilities. I even reckoned I could do a few of them simultaneously because I was that awesome! It didn’t matter that my singing voice was horrible or that science was my worst subject; I was positive I had it goin’ on!
But something happened on the way to my invisible jet. My supreme confidence began to wane. Maybe it was the humongous brown, herringbone glasses I was forced to wear in the third grade? Or the braces cemented to my teeth in middle school? I don’t know. What I do know is that I veered like mad from my earlier, mega-fantastic charted course and wound up here. No magic lasso, no stadiums filled with adoring fans and no Ph.D. How did I get it so wrong? More importantly, how do those select few get it right?
In order to guarantee my son’s future success, and because I’m such a super-cool mom, I decided I would try to make my children’s dreams a reality. So I called them into the kitchen, bent way down, and began my own cross-examination. The oldest decided, after a whole lot of waffling, that he wants to be a scientist … or a police officer … or a superhero when he grows up. That last one made me smile. It also gave me proof positive that, yes, he really is my child. Last week I wasn’t so sure. But I digress. My youngest, Mr. Smarty Pants, gave me definitive answers. He wants to be a paleontologist in the summer and a zookeeper during the winter. Period. Alrighty then.
It was now my mission to find mentors for my kids. Luckily, my friend’s husband is a scientist. He has a doctorate in something I can’t even pronounce, let alone spell, but I know it’s a really fancy job. I wonder if he would be up for a play date with a 9-year-old? As for the little one, his dreams were a teensy bit more challenging. And when I say teensy bit more challenging, I mean entirely impossible! After internet searches and Facebook pleas, I realized paleontologists and zookeepers are a covert bunch. I would have had an easier time if my son had said he wanted to be the President. At least I know where that guy lives. With no money to hire a private investigator, I focused on my oldest.
Gleefully, I informed him of his upcoming internship. I practically sung out the words, “Guess what? Momma got you an afternoon with a real scientist! We’re talkin’ Petri dishes, test tubes and white lab coats. Aren’t you pumped?”
In my head, Reese would immediately fall to his knees, praising me, his sainted mother, for all of my effort. What really happened was this: The kid looked at me funny and snorted.
“Moooooommmm. I don’t want to be a scientist. That was sooo last week! I want to be an astronaut now.”
Seriously? A spaceman? Who knows them…? *Sigh.*
After canceling the laboratory play date, I pondered my own lot in life. Even though I’m not famous (or even a veterinarian), if I really think about it and squint my eyes just right, most of my dreams really have come true – especially the superhero gig. Honestly, what mom doesn’t have a cape flowing underneath her street clothes? As for my future astronaut and dinosaur hunter? Well, I think they’ll find their own way just fine. Even without my help. And should they falter, I’ll be right here to give them a boost. After all, if I can grow up to be Wonder Woman, then the sky is the limit for them, right?