Kira, my eldest, who's almost nine years old, loves and adores animals. She loves interacting with them, watches any number of wildlife programs on TV and listens with rapt attention to any new details concerning animals she comes across, absorbing the information like a sponge. She's constantly asking all manner of questions about the animal kingdom, looking up information on the topic and sharing all the knowledge she's accumulated on the subject to everyone she comes across. For the last few years she has been adamant that she will be a veterinarian when she grows up. She has even had me explain the procedure and the studying involved in becoming a vet. I think that's awesome and, if she's still going on about it in a few years time, would love for her to realize her dream.
My nephew Sven, who's just turned six, is adamant that he will become a pilot and loves planes and anything to do with them to no end. It's not the fighter jets that he's interested in but he basically drools at the mere thought of a commercial airplane. He's been to the airport a ton of times now and loves to watch the planes take off, land, taxi onto the runway and all the other things that planes do that I have no knowledge of. He doesn't even mind just staring at them when they are idle. Information being so readily available nowadays, he's even ferreted out some of the workings of the interior of a cockpit on the A-380 airbus, how many passengers it can carry, even the length of it's wingspan. Also, like his cousin, he tells everyone about his favorite subject and shoots out facts about planes and the responsibilities of a pilot and his crew at an alarming rate.
A couple of weeks ago, as Kira was once again telling me about some animal related fact that she saw on a TV show and how she couldn't wait to be a veterinarian, she asked me what I had wanted to be when I was kid.
I was shocked to find that I could not for the life of me answer her question. I know that I was basically raised in construction. Since I could reliably walk, my father took me along to sites. I spent a large amount of my growing years, learning all about tools and how to use them. Reading plans, measuring sites and applying logic to solve problems that always seem to crop up in construction. I absolutely enjoyed that aspect of my formative years and it taught me not only the skills that I use to this day but also how to interact with people on a professional level. Did I always want to be a builder? Didn't I ever want to be something other? I really don't know. I even asked my mom about it and she also cannot remember me wanting to be anything else.
For some reason, that's just plain depressing and sort of saddens me. Up until my daughter asked me that question, I never really gave it any thought. Builder... That just seems so plain, so utterly boring and mundane. An astronaut, a doctor, a fireman, a police officer, hell, even a lawyer, those sound like interesting things to aspire to.
While I mull over the answer to that question, mentally adding it to the list of things I get to blame my inevitable mid-life crisis on, I will continue to nurture the children's interests, helping out where and when I can and doing everything possible to help them achieve their goals.
I would really love to find out if other dads have had something similar happen to them and how they dealt with it.