When I grow up and become a little bit older

By KARRIE McALLISTER Columnist Published:

My children sat around the table and talked about what they wanted to be when they grew up. For kids, this is almost as exciting as deciding what the theme for next year's birthday party will be, but usually doesn't change as much. I love when kids daydream about their adult future, though, because they have no idea that it involves things like salaries and taxes and leaf blowers and nose hair trimmers and heating pads and the right to fall asleep on the couch 30 seconds after the dinner dishes have been put away.

Instead, they see the world at their fingertips, full of possibility, hope, and dreams.

I once had the pleasure to work with a bunch of second-graders and I asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up. At first I heard the typical answers.

Policeman. Teacher. Video Game Arcade Owner. Professional Athlete. It was a great combination of service-related careers and the dreams of children, which was exactly my point in asking them. When you're in second grade, you have a lifetime ahead of you -- you can literally be and do anything you want, thanks to the opportunities we have in this great country of ours.

My own children have dreams of their own. My oldest wants to be a weather woman. My son aspires to do anything that allows him to wear camouflage and be in the woods for days. My youngest daughter, a blond with a wild head of hair, wants to be a musketeer. And not the Mickey Mousketeer, a real one with a sword and a feathery hat.

But when I asked them what they want to be when they grow older, they hadn't an idea. Because that's where I'm at -- I'm already technically grown up, old enough that I can't wake up one day and say, "Wow, I'd like to be a park ranger. Better get started on that now." But I'm not quite yet grown older, because try as I may, I still feel like I live most of my life in a childhood fog, marveling at shooting stars, whipping snowballs in the winter and drinking from hoses in the summer.

So what I can do is decide what I want to be when I grow up. Or grow older. Or something like that.

When I grow older, I want to be organized. I want to not wake up one morning and realize that we are out of clothes and that it would make more sense in my schedule to buy more pants because I don't have time to do laundry. (This may or may not have happened this week. Don't tell my husband.) I want to have a full refrigerator with food that is not out-of-date, moldy, or unrecognizable. I want to move my couch and not find dog hair, socks, game pieces and barrettes, and instead find, well, just carpet.

I want to be leisurely. I want to have standing lunch dates that last a minimum of two hours. I want to go to the grocery store and stop to talk to people instead of waving at them as I zoom by at warp speed in search of lunchmeat and pretzels because lunches aren't going to pack themselves.

When I grow older, I want to be spunky. I want to be that person who sings in her car at the stoplight and wears bright clothing and takes up Bollywood dancing on a whim.

And finally, when I eventually grow up, I want to keep dreaming so that if I wake up one morning and feel like being a park ranger, I'll learn a few new plants or animals and put those hiking boots to good use.

Contact or read more at www.KarrieMcAllister.com.

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