“When you were little what did you want to be when you grew up?”
I distinctly remember sitting in some form of ‘circle time’ at school. It was somewhere between grade three and five- so let’s just average it out to grade 4. The teacher asked each of us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Without thinking I blurted “A Disney Animator”. I think that was a first for her, because the teacher seemed surprised at the specificity of my career choice. I was always fond of creating, whether it was arts & craft projects, self-published books (out of cardboard!) complete with a short story and illustration, or drawing & painting. Every summer with much anticipation I looked forward to Disney’s next animated release. I spent hours drawing the likeness of every official poster image, until I had memorized each line, each fleck of reflection in the heroine’s big doe eyes. I drew Belle, I drew Beast; I even drew Pocahontas. My proudest moment was when at 10 years old I drew a 6 foot version of Genie from Aladdin. I taped those giant white poster papers together, grabbed my oil pastels and got to work. Genie hung on my doorway for months.
As I grew older and school became more about ‘serious’ subjects, art became a pastime. My love for literature existed in the background and I enjoyed writing stories in language class. Again I don’t know why I was led to think this too was a pastime. The arts made a cultured person out of you but not a career. To be fair, I came to these conclusions on my own because I was a realist and didn’t think I was talented enough to ever consider such an interest to be more than hobbies. Enjoying something and being good enough at it did not equate to future success. So I meandered along not knowing what I really wanted out of the ‘serious’ subjects that took me to a higher education. I fell into a corporate path which turned out to be an important phase in my life and something I needed. But never again did I have as clear a moment as that little girl with big Disney dreams.
My four-year-old has been showing her own interest in career choice recently. Just today she proclaimed “When I grow up I want to be a doctor.” A side note here, my family despite being South Asian, didn’t and still don’t fit into the “you must be a doctor when you grow up” stereotype. None of us had an interest in science in any kind of capacity. So to have my daughter say this of her own accord, well why not- it is an honourable profession. I encouraged her further and asked what type of doctor she wants to be.
“I want to be a doctor that takes babies out of mother’s tummies.”
I was floored. My baby is a genius, I thought. Secretly proud of watching all those Grey’s Anatomy episodes while pregnant with her. And then she added.
“Just like Mindy”.
Maybe she will be a doctor someday or maybe something completely out of left field. I will keep an eye out and encourage her interests. But what I will also do is make sure she stops spying on my shows! 😉