What do you want to be when you grow up?
Over the years, I have come to realise that this question is a bad one.
On one hand, it’s a fun and harmless question. And kids do come up with some pretty funny answers. When Ash was 3 he said he wanted to be a policeman and a cooker (he meant chef), in that order. At 6, he proclaimed an air steward was what he wanted because 'it's more fun than being a pilot'. Now, he's not so sure.
But seriously, how do kids usually answer this question?
Most children already have a pre-conceived notion to conjure up an answer that will be acceptable to the questioner. They think career. They think cool. They think job. They think awesomeness. Without any thought as to their unique strengths or style.
Heck, if early inclinations are any measure, Ayd - who is so comfortable in removing his clothes in any place - has a future as an exotic dancer.
When I was a kid, I thought the perfect job in the world was to be the guy who works at 7-11. My logic was pretty solid, because I figured that would mean I’d get all the free candies, chocolates, chips and Slurpees that my heart could ever desire. Funny how life turned out, no?
In this age of parenting, where everything our kids somehow do reflect on us, how are we going to allow our kids to make mistakes? To suit up wearing a gun? To toil in a greasy kitchen?
I think it’s funny that just because most of us adults are obsessed with what people do for a living, we project that onto our kids.
Just the other day, Ayd offered, "Why not be a garbage collector? It's such a cool job!" He’s got a point. Garbage men get to ride around on the back of a truck and don’t have to wear seatbelts.
But seriously, I worry because we all have such high expectations of our kids that we would not be satisfied with anything less than whatever our neurotic parental desires dictate us. Our kids bask under such intense heat of expectations - our own, and now theirs by extrapolation as well.
No matter what my monkies decide to do with their life, I am sure it will be difficult and full of obstacles and hopefully, rewards as well. And on my part, I do hope that I must not get too overly-invested in their decisions and allow them the freedom to succeed and to fail.
So the next time I ask a child, I will try asking this instead:
Who are you becoming?