Childhood Memories Friday: What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

1987 recess

Childhood Memories Friday

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a question you’re asked all the time when you’re a child. You are asked to write papers about it.  Your grandparents want to know.

I always envied the kids who had an easy answer to this one, and many did — a fireman, a nurse, a teacher.

I never knew. I felt that as I grew up, a career choice would come to me as a revelation, but it never did.

Many jobs sounded interesting to me, but they all seemed to have some problem or other. Many offered really low pay. I absolutely loved working at the Dairy Queen during summers when I was in college. Ditto working in a preschool in my early 20s. But you can’t really make a living doing either of those.

I have always loved travel and thought it would be great to be an airline stewardess, or a tour guide. For a time, I thought it would be wonderful to be a nanny, preferably to a royal baby. None of these jobs, however, required a college education. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but somehow I just couldn’t go from being valedictorian to taking a non-college job. I came from a small town. People would talk.

So, what were the jobs that seemed to offer potential? As a “smart” kid, it was often suggested to me that I become a doctor or a lawyer. Neither of these held the least appeal. I absolutely hate anything dealing with medical situations. In fact, I spent my entire stint as a candy striper volunteering in the hospital gift shop. If I concentrated, I could work up a pretty nauseous feeling just sitting there selling cards and cigarettes to the customers (random fact that has stuck with me: cigarettes cost $1 per pack, including tax. They were one of the most popular things I sold). I sure as heck didn’t want to volunteer to go into any actual patient rooms, where I might have to deliver mail or even, heaven forbid, empty a bedpan.

And I really had no idea what a lawyer did, but my stereotype was that they walked around in court, making animated presentations. I didn’t have the awful fear of public speaking that many people do, but still, as a peacemaking, nonconfrontational type, I had no desire to spend my days in this way.

My dad was going through a rough period during my late teenage years. “Just don’t be a stupid teacher, like I am!” he lamented in a sarcastic way. I don’t know if it’s irony or a sign of my contrariness that that’s just what I ended up doing.

When I student-taught, my supervising teacher was Debbie Fly at Edgewood Elementary, a Birmingham suburb. She was wonderful, and many things I tried during my years of teaching came directly from her. She was so generous in sharing resources with me. After my first day or so in her classroom, she asked if I’d ever taught before. “You just seem so … natural,” she said. “You don’t seem nervous or anything.”

It was true. I’m not sure if it came from my years of babysitting, my high school piano teaching, or the subbing I did occasionally at my dad’s school when I was home from college, but I’ve always felt pretty much at home with a group of kids.

1987 recess

Subbing during recess, 1987. You know I’m young because I’m wearing heels …

When you were a child, what did you want to be as an adult? Did you follow through with it?

4 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: What Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

  1. I wanted to be various things: a movie star (ha!), a psychologist, a teacher, a writer. But most of all I wanted to be a wife and mom. I majored in Home Economics Education, but by the time I did my student teaching my senior year, I knew I did not want to teach. Imparting wisdom I loved; dealing with rowdy students who didn’t want to hear it was not something I loved. I don’t exude an air of authority like some people do (my husband, for one – don’t know how he does that!). I felt for years that I had wasted all that time and money in college, but later came to see God could use it even though I never took a paying job that required my degree. My home ec. classes helped because I did not come from a very domestic home, and my education classes helped my “people skills.” And writing is a form of teaching: I hope to do more of that in the future. Also, not coming from a Christian home, classes in child training and family matters helped as well as the Biblical basis of chapel and other classes. And I met my husband there. So, not a bad deal at all. 🙂

  2. Great breezy, conversational post!! I like this style! I wanted to be first a veterinarian, then a band director. Mostly I wanted to be a writer and historian or a diplomat [really a Foreign Service Officer]–that’s what I went to college for. Well, I’ve come very close. I was a type of diplomat–a Peace Corps Volunteer and I do write. I became a librarian when I discovered I was never going to make it into the Foreign Service. (My grandmother always said “If you can’t be one marry one,” oh the irony–one old Boy Friend is very high up in the NSA another served 20 years in the Foreign Service!!]

    Imagine how great Wills would be if Chuck & Di had chosen you to be William’s Nanny!!

  3. According to Mother, I didn’t learn to talk until I was three years old. But, she told me that almost as soon as I began talking, I said I wanted to be a nurse. I did follow through and loved that profession. So thankful that was God’s choice for me.

    BTW, you look so young and cute in that picture.

  4. When I was a teenager way back in the 1950s, about the only career options for girls were nurse, teacher, or secretary. I knew being a nurse was out for me, because I couldn’t stand the sight of blood, and being a secretary sounded pretty boring for a valedictorian like myself. My very wise high school principal urged me to become a teacher. He was also my school counselor, and he thought that I had the right personality to be a caring teacher, and that is what I became. It was a good fit for me, and now both my only daughter and my only granddaughter are also teachers, making us third generation educators. I am proud of that!

    As a teacher I loved doing the bulletin boards during my elementary teaching career. My own daughter elected to become a high school teacher since she didn’t want any part of that artsy stuff! My granddaughter has a personality similar to mine, and she is currently a first grade teacher who also likes to decorate her classroom and read good children’s lit to her students. The only other thing that I secretly wanted to be was an actress! I loved watching “The Loretta Young” drama show on TV after school most days, so I thought that it would be neat to change roles like she did in her shows. Now my lifelong secret is out! 🙂

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