Growing Up

I would imagine that it would seem pretty ludicrous to turn to your 10 year old son or daughter and ask them what qualities and characteristics that they feel they will be looking for in their future spouse. If you were at a friend’s house and they said to their 5th grader…

“Hey, do you think that 15 years from now you will choose a mate who is spontaneous, irreverent, and tons of fun or do you think that maybe you’d like someone more stable and predictable? You know, someone you might be able to count on more to be there when life seems too overwhelming. Given your life experiences so far, what kind of person do you see yourself as being, a decade and a half from now?”

… I’m pretty sure that your brain might cramp up and cease functioning for a moment. Who would put that kind of pressure on a kid so young? Why would anyone try to pry that kind of a decision out of a 10 year old when all they should be worried about is being a kid and figuring out what in the world is going on around them on a daily basis? Well, thankfully I haven’t actually witnessed anything like this first hand, but I’m sure I will someday.

Maybe there are some people who talk to their kids like this, but everyone I know would have quite a problem initiating such an adult conversation with a kid who still wears Spongebob Squarepants tighty-whities. However, nobody seems to have any problem at all asking a 5th grader, or younger, what they want to do in life… what they plan for a possible future career. When you think about it, this second question brings with it almost all the same decisions and problems that the first one did.

With little, to no, life experience you are asking them to conjure up some vague idea of what their future selves will think and feel 10 to 15 years down the road! How could they possibly imagine such a world? I have a hard time doing this myself, especially when I look at how I felt and thought 10 to 15 years in the past. I was a mess and had no idea who I truly was. I will probably look back 15 years from now and laugh at myself again.

All I’m saying is that when I look at my son and daughters, I too wonder about what the future holds for them in a perpetually uncertain world. I may have even asked them what they want to be when they grow-up, but I have to remind myself to ease up sometimes. Just because I am curious, and I worry about bumps in the road, and I want to protect them from harm, doesn’t mean that I need to instill in them any sense of urgency to become adults before they are ready. If I’m nervous and worrisome and trying to arrange and organize every aspect of my life, it doesn’t mean I should sabotage my kids with a Daddy-Bomb of responsibility. There will be plenty of time for them to get hit with that later.

My mother, like everyone else, asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Being a poor kid in an all-american capitalist society, I asked what jobs made the most money. She told me doctors and lawyers, and since viewing people’s insides after horrible machinery mishaps didn’t excite me, I chose the latter. I am obviously not a lawyer, but my mom still loves me I guess.

The funny thing is how many people will sometimes try to hold their kids to what they answered at the age of 10 or 12 to a supposedly and seemingly, harmless question. They ask them the question that they couldn’t possibly wrap their brains around all the aspects of, and then repeatedly bring it up throughout the years to come. Sure, it’s in a very passive way and usually not meant to be a command or order, but it does inadvertently steer a kid in a direction they might not end up going, often to the disappointment of the expectant parent.

Parents. Stop doing this to yourself. If you wait long enough, THEY will tell YOU what they want to be and everyone will be much happier. By the way, I am referring to children who have already gotten passed the toddler dreams of being a policeman, a firefighter, a pretty kitty, a fairy, or a ninja. It’s also funny how nobody takes a kid very seriously when they say they want to be a policeman or a fireman, as if it’s way too cliche to be legitimate. I wonder how people in these professions feel when they hear it from their own children… I guess ninja father/son discussions is a topic for another day…

2 responses to “Growing Up

  1. It’s crazy, right?
    I remember when I was a little kid, maybe 5th or 6th grade we took a career aptitude test and I scored a 29 out of 30 for “the arts”. Nobody really told me what that entails, but I was excited because I’d always wanted to be a writer and this seemed like the right path. I ran home to tell my dad. His response?
    “Well, that sounds very exciting, but you know it’s very difficult to support yourself as a writer.” I think that was probably the day i decided “share time” with my father was over rated.

    • Definitely understand what you mean. I don’t think that people stop to think about, or take the time to understand, how much of an impact what they say and do has on their kids. Even those with the most admirable of intentions can inadvertently take the wheel and drive their kids’ lives for them. Young children can be little mimic machines and can take offhand comments as gospel truths. Parents will tell their kids they can be anything they want and then, in the same breath, start eliminating options one at a time. I’m not all high and mighty either, I’m sure I do it too from time to time, the point is to try to be more aware of it, I guess. Well, I see you’re still writing, LOL.

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