As the story goes, when I was five or six, I went around explaining to adults that I wanted to be three things when I grew up: a mom, a teacher and a babysitter. In that order. It made sense: I had experience having a mom; my dad was a middle school teacher; and I associated babysitters with getting to watch TV and eat an extra dessert.
So these were clearly roles that were positive. Moms? Good. Teachers? Good. Babysitters? Especially Jennifer, who used to bring over a backpack of VHS tapes? Definitely good. The calculation must have been easy: moms, teachers, and babysitters are good, so I will be those things.
Of those three, I’m currently only serving in the mom position, but over the course of my life, I’ve been all three for at least some period of time. I won’t get into my experiences as a teacher or as a babysitter: I’ll only say that I now wish that my 5-year-old self had had more lucrative dreams. A mom, a teacher, and a babysitter — sure. All valuable roles. But why not also an investment banker, or an heiress or the inventor of, like, the Internet? My 5-year-old self just wasn’t thinking about the budget.
My daughter, on the other hand, is on the right track with her future goals. She just turned 4, but for the last year and a half, she’s been consistently saying she wants to be two things: a princess and a doctor. Actually, if you press her, it’s mostly just one role in her mind: a Princess Doctor. Is she a doctor who takes care of princesses? Is she a princess who, bored of royal drudgeries, does pro bono medical work? Is she a doctor who just happens to also be a princess? We haven’t received any clarity on the matter, and when asked, we only get a stern repetition: “I want to be a princess doctor.” End of story, Mom. What’s so hard to understand?
All I know is that, at least as far as finances are concerned, a Princess Doctor sounds like a position that probably brings in a lot more than a combination mom-teacher-babysitter.
Most 4-year-olds don’t actually know what they want to do vocationally, of course. And they shouldn’t. My daughter can change her mind hundreds of times by the time she starts her first real career.
But for now, I’m going to start planning an elaborate retirement for myself. After all, there’s soon to be a bona fide princess in my family, and she’s going to have her medical degree, to boot.