When you date someone for longer than three months, people want to know when you’re getting married.
As soon as you get married, people want to know when you’re going to have a baby.
When you have a baby, people want to know what that child is going to be when he grows up. Well, that and when you’re going to have another one.
But people will ask you inane questions like: “What’s he going to be when he grows up?”
My response was usually “potty trained.”
Someone asked him when he was 3 what he wanted to be; he replied with doggie doctor and an orange Power Ranger. An appropriate response from someone his age.
“He’s going to be a preacher,” Granny declared of Cole one day. “Look at him, he’s going to be a preacher.”
I don’t know if I want my child to have the responsibility of being a preacher, leading a congregation spiritually can be an exhausting job and it’s something he would be expecting his future wife to be involved in as well.
“He’s going to be the president,” Mama said proudly.
Scratch that one too. I don’t want my child to deal with the stress, the pressure, the anger that is directed towards just about everyone who has ever held that office. Plus, once they start the vetting process, his mama may keep him out.
“What do you want him to be?” Mama asked.
“Happy,” I replied. “I want him to be happy.”
I also wanted him to be healthy, to be successful on his terms – that may not be the things that made me feel successful – and I wanted him to be loved.
Did I want him to have some fancy-schmancy title after his name, or an acronym proclaiming him to be the grand poobah of a company?
Not if that’s not what makes him happy.
Did I want him to make plenty of money? Sure, we all want our children to know financial security and peace but there’s also some things more important than money. Those big bucks may mean more hours at a job, away from family.
Did I want him to be successful? Absolutely, I did and I know whatever he decided he wanted to be, he would go at it with the determination to be successful and to do his best.
But beyond all of that, I wanted my child to be happy, and that was something he could only define for himself.
Another parent and I were talking about this very subject a few years ago. The parent said she wanted her daughter to grow up to be a good person more than anything. She said no matter what path her daughter decided to follow, she wanted her to be an example of how to treat others and how to do the right thing at all times, to express that compassion that needs to be shared. Her words were so simply eloquent that I knew that was what I wanted for my child as well; that this beautiful truth was what every parent wanted for their child.
“What did you want me to be when I was younger?” I asked Mama.
“What I want you to be now,” she began. “Safe. And when I say safe, I mean happy too, I guess.
I want to know that you are content in your corner of the world, that you are doing what you want to do with your life and that you are taken care of as you go about doing it.
I say safe because I can’t be there with you to make sure you are, so I say safe instead of happy because I think safe covers it all.
Safe does equal happy, doesn’t it? When we are safe, and feel comforted, secure, we are happy, aren’t we?
“I know you think I am silly and being overprotective for saying that, but does that make sense?” she asked.
It absolutely did. For once, it made beautiful, simple, perfect sense.