Though it is difficult to remember those decades long past when I was a child, I do remember being asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And even if I couldn’t recall it being asked of me, I’ve asked it of children and heard others ask the same.
There are many kids who dream of being a superhero, doctor or astronaut. Although desiring to grow up to become an astronaut seems to be a thing from my generation. Today, wanting to grow up to be an astronaut has probably been supplanted by aspirations of becoming a Video Game Designer or Internet Thingy Maker or… heck, I don’t even know what the jobs/careers are available today.
When I was a child and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d have probably said astronaut. Millions of boys wanted to grow up to be an astronaut. Those, after all, were the heady days of the space race with the Soviet Union. Realizing later in life how susceptible I am to motion sickness, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t get to experience zero gravity.
But beyond that spoken desire, I also would sit in class or Catechism, staring out the window, and imagine “growing up” to many different careers. I thought of being a police officer, playing drums in a band, becoming a doctor, a radio DJ, a TV Weatherman, a writer, working in an office like my father, being a TV producer and/or being on a network television show… and many more things. I even thought of being a stand-up comedian.
Looking back on my life, I’ve discovered that I got to do most of those things I’d imagined as a child, even if they were never on a large scale. I was a small-market disc jockey, a small-market TV weatherman. I did play drums (very poorly) in a band with one of my earlier wives and a small group of friends
when I was in my early 20’s. I think we had paying gigs twice! My first job in radio was writing commercials and now I have several books available on Amazon. I created my own TV show which ran for more than four years in the Coachella Valley and then I started my own production company and produced half-hour cable shows for nonprofit organizations for eight years. As for being on a network TV show, my butt did do a walk-through during a pool scene for the pilot episode of PS I Love You on CBS. I even got a shot at stand-up comedy, hosting the Comedy Night at a local night club. I sometimes wonder if that would have gone better if only I were funny. One can never tell.
Some of the jobs I had aimed for, some I fell into. My career path was, for the most part, electronic media. That means radio, TV and, finally, video production. But I got to experience the fruition of many of those childhood imaginings. I was even able to quench my desire to be a police officer by volunteering to serve as a Reserve. I didn’t—as I said and for obvious reasons—become an astronaut nor did I go to medical school, but I have done many things, including others I didn’t imagine; washing dishes at an ice cream parlor, raking sand traps at a golf course and spending nearly a year as a car salesman, among them.
I doubt I’d have ever answered the question of what do you want to be when you grow up? with any of those choices. But I did have some pretty cool experiences. I still often pause and linger to hear the answers young children give to that question. And, for me, the absolute best answer was given by my youngest child. When he was four-years-old, we were walking across a parking lot, on our way from our car to a restaurant. His maternal aunt asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Without hesitation he said, “I want to be a scientist… or an Overlord.”