Thursday, February 26, 2009

When I grow up

In 5th grade, one of our class assignments was to write an essay and draw a picture about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I remember that I didn’t have the slightest idea. Was it due to a lack of imagination on my part? The limited exposure to career-minded females in my life? Or was it just a Zen-like focus on the present – “I’m ten years old, for Pete’s sake, how the heck do I know?”

So I wrote that maybe I would go to Jr. College and then become a secretary. My Mom was going to Jr. College at the time to get a nursing degree. I’m not sure where I came up with the secretary part – there were secretaries who worked in the school office and secretaries in the doctor’s and dentist’s offices.

When my teacher read my essay, she told me, “No, do it again.” I was a bright kid and she was flabbergasted that my dreams were so narrow. Of course, she said it in that encouraging, positive-reinforcement way that teachers do. But she basically told me that what I had handed in was not acceptable.

I remember sitting back down at my desk and still not having any idea. I was a very pragmatic kid and took things literally. I thought that I really had to KNOW what I wanted to be in order to write it down. But it was also clear that telling the truth wasn’t an option. I couldn’t get away with saying “I really don’t know.” So I made something up. Something I knew she would find acceptable.

I wrote that I would become a doctor and drew a picture of me as a doctor with a stethoscope and white coat. When I showed her this one, she was very happy. I could tell that she thought she had uncovered my real dreams. She was proud of herself.

I didn’t become a secretary or a doctor. But I did become very good at telling people what they wanted to hear.


Bobby said...

Wonderful teachers we had growing up!!

Leasie said...

I am going to school to be a teacher. I really appreciated this post, because it helped me to make sure not to do this. Your dreams were very practical, and the teacher should not have done that. It seems like you are doing great. Thanks

Alies- a Future teacher