What Everybody Should Be When They Grow Up

It’s fun to think about what kinds of people your kids will be when they grow up, and not just what they will do for a living. Sure, the first time my daughter picked up a ball and threw it across the room on a perfect line right to my chest I immediately thought professional athlete. Same as any other rational father. But more important than whatever they will do to pay the bills is how they will live while doing it.

My daughter is currently learning about “community helpers” in preschool. She comes home with picture of mailmen and police officers. She colors pictures of teachers and doctors. She recently came home with a worksheet saying what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her answer was the most perfect response to that question I have ever seen – I want to be a happy face.

To some that might seem like a silly answer, but I can’t think of anything better. I’m sure it was probably unintentional. At some point in school that day she probably saw a happy face sticker or something and that is what popped into her mind in that moment. At least that is what my rational side tells me. But maybe she actually means it. There are definitely worse things to be. If all she wants to be in life is happy, she’s the smartest person I know.

I want to get that worksheet framed. I want to remind her of that when she has to make new friends at a new school. I want to show her that worksheet when she’s a moody teenager and everything sucks. I want to use it as a measuring stick when she starts bringing the dreaded high school boys to the house. I want to turn it into a giant poster and cover her dorm room wall with it.

And I want to be smart enough to learn from my kids. I want to get it tattooed on my person so I won’t forget. My kids don’t care what I do when I go to work, but they sure do know when daddy is happy or sad. I don’t get to choose how many people are ahead of me in line, or how the Tigers play, or how other people are reacting to a virus that’s going around. But I do get to choose to be a happy face.

Maybe one of my kids will be professional athlete. Or an interior designer. Or a park ranger. Or a weatherman. There are a lot of things my kids can do in this world, but there is only one thing I want them to be.

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