What do you want to be when you grow up? As I child I remember hearing this question and never knowing what to say. I could never wrap my mind around it. Was I supposed to know and why didn’t I? Was something wrong with me? I remember once being excited about becoming an archeologist. My heart started beating quickly, when I thought I might have found an answer to the question. I could discover artifacts and learn about history of long ago and ancient things. Discover something, maybe. How mysterious and cool! But that little fire was quickly put out by the adults around me: “That is a terrible idea, you don’t want to do that.” I remember thinking I might want to be an astronaut. I could travel to distant planets, go up in a rocket, be really brave. I was not afraid. Then I read a book from the library about the discomforts of space travel, namely motion sickness and toileting. That interest, too, fizzled fast. But deep down in I knew the answer to the question. I wanted to be a writer. But I didn’t think that was something I could do. It was not a job, like being an artist. And I wasn’t talented or famous. So I never shared that idea with anybody. It wasn’t worth sharing but at that same time it was a treasure so precious I didn’t want to risk losing it. Funny thing is, I hid it so long, like the Halloween and Valentine’s Day candy I never ate so as to not waste, that I had forgotten about it. Without realizing it, that desire had disappeared and would take years, decades to dig back up.
Questions for Parents:
How does your child respond when asked this question? Does it excite your child or stress him or her out? What is your child interested in? Is there something he or she is excited about? Have you ever unwittingly thrown water on that interest? Are your kids comfortable sharing their dreams with you?
Reflect and/or Discuss:
Sometimes after a season of unsatisfying work, lostness, or boredom we go back to this same question. No matter what your age is, it is not too late to answer this question. Had you once known but have now forgotten? Are you ready for a new dream?