When I was a child, people often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I think they found it comical when I said that I wanted to be a college professor like my father. Har-dee-har-har. “Why, she’s a real cutie, Les,” they’d slap my dad on the back. “You’d better watch out – she’ll take your job someday soon.”
Yeah. As if.
Then, when I was older, we’d have to write essays about people we admired. Can you imagine kids today having to do that? I feel bad for them. I’m sure the selections would all be pop stars or actors. There was a time I wanted to be Gloria Steinem. And then Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Briefly, in college, I aspired to be Georgia O’Keeffe, but then I decided the lonely life of a painter was not for me. Or more accurately, a blunt instructor told me I’d never make a living as an artist, so I’d better look for something else to do where I had “actual talent.” He said that just before he told me I couldn’t major in Art, even though I’d taken all the prerequisites for three years. I’d have to start over in a new field.
Yeah. As if.
So I danced, for several years. I wasn’t bad. Not good enough to go on a stage, but I did read a lot about the prima ballerinas that one was supposed to admire. I really wanted to emulate Mikhail Baryshnikov – flying and jumping around with pure abandon. Not many roles for female dancers doing that, except where I ended up. In the circus.
Flying through the air on a trapeze is exhilarating – until I fell from 50 feet without a net. Landed on the clown car.
Back to the discussion of heroes and aspirations. Can a young man become an astronaut if that’s who he admires in grammar school? Sure, if he studies and has a passion (and aptitude) for the science required to achieve that goal. Right? But what if he wants to become rich and famous, like Justin Timberlake or Lebron James? Hard work and passion can get him to a certain point, but what are the odds that he could break into the music business and become a success, or be chosen to play for an NBA team? What I mean is, are those goals realistic? Not to be too judgmental – well, all right, I’m going there – but think about how many athletes and musicians are positive role models. If a kid aspires to be “just like Mike,” what exactly does that mean?
I’m trying to stay away from politics in this blog, but I think the childish, vindictive, and unstable occupant of the White House has done nothing but harm to the national psyche. What do we think its long-term effect is going to be on the youth who are taking it all in – the lying, the thuggish bullying, and the narcissism? I hope that no child chooses to write “When I grow up I want to be Just Like DT” (I won’t write out his name).
I hope they aspire to be much better people than that.