This year my son dressed as a race car driver for Halloween because, right now, that is what he wants to be when he grows up. He switches between race car driver and construction man on a weekly basis, depending on whatever toys he is playing with that week.
For about a year, when he was 2, he wanted to be an octopus. This was followed by the ever-more practical fireman (chosen after the local fire department visited his preschool and he saw the cool truck). When he turned 3 and became obsessed with Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, he decided he wanted to sell tiny cars. Then, for a week, he was going to be a tiny car salesman who moonlighted as an astronaut. We now waver between dump truck driver and NASCAR driver. I can’t wait to find out what he’ll be next!
I love this about children…the endless sense of possibility and promise they feel about their future and the mysterious world of the grown-ups–where you can stay up late, eat three treats for dessert (“I’m bigger than you” I tell him), and can drive a car. I remember some of my own aspirations when I was growing up. When I was in grade school, I wanted to be an actress. My parents will tell you I would have excelled at melodrama; too bad this type of theater disappeared with the Old West. I kept this dream tucked in my back pocket until high school when I actually got a small part in a school play (Mrs. Higa-Jiga in Teahouse of the August Moon.) My part mostly entailed speaking made-up jibber jabber that was my version of Japanese. There was only one word (“bobby pin”) that I had to say in English. Of course, on show day, I neglected to say this word due to nerves. Since I instantly quit things I am not immediately good at, my acting career ended with my first role.
For the longest time, I harbored a secret dream to be a figure skater. This dream was resurrected whenever the Winter Olympics aired. This fantasy was mostly indulged while on long car trips, where I would listen to whatever music was playing and choreograph a figure skating routine in my head. In my daydreams, I was absolutely amazing–accomplishing feats to this day haven’t been done by any Olympic gold medalist. This dream came crashing down when I actually went ice skating and realized how much it hurts your ankles.
Another long-running aspiration is my desire to be a grocery store checkout person. I’ve always been fascinated by the checkout process at the grocery store (a fascination my son seems to share). The moving conveyor belt. The beeping of the bar codes. I always wanted to do that. When stores began introducing the self-checkout lines, I was in heaven! My dream fulfilled and I didn’t even have to do it 8 hours a day! I always muscle my husband out of the way so I can do the barcode scanning. What is even sadder is that I will fight my son to get to “beep” the groceries. I also love that some stores let you weigh your own produce and put the stickers on the bag. I adore doing this and will overbuy produce just so I can do more scanning and button-pushing.
I’ve also always wanted to work in an ice cream store…for all the obvious reasons. No matter how often I tell them “I want extra hot fudge and I am willing to pay extra,” not one ice cream store worker has ever put an adequate amount of fudge on my sundae. If I worked in an ice cream parlor, people would be staggering back to their tables with 5 pound sundaes overflowing with fudge.
Whatever my son grows up to be, I hope it is something he enjoys. I hope he gets to fulfill both his little dreams and finds a way to be an octopus, a race car driver, a fireman and a tiny car salesman in some form or another.
What did you want to be when you were growing up? What did you actually become?