‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ Were you ever asked that as a child? Have you ever asked it to a child? And, I suppose we expect a one-sentence answer about what they want to be, rather that what they want to do: I want to be a footballer; I want to be a singer; a designer; a doctor; an inventor; a YouTube sensation (yes – one kid told me that). Are we still in the mindset of instilling into children a single career ambition, so that, once achieved, they know they have ‘made it’? I don’t think so. Certainly, it is right to be ambitious for one’s children, to wish great achievements for them as they grow up, to hope that they strive to live well and fulfill their potential (whatever that means). I’m sure I am not alone – having travelled many decades from my childhood – in thinking to myself: I’m still growing up, and I’m continuing to add to the list to the list of what I want to do – never mind the confusion around what I want to be. So here’s some of what is on my list, and perhaps some suggestions for your list:
I want to be curious.
I want to laugh and skip and sing and whistle in public.
I want to yell and scream and cry snotty tears when I fall.
I want someone to be there to give me sympathy for my cut knee, but not too much, so I get a little bit brave.
I want to paint walls, and love doing it, then hate doing it, then love doing it again.
I want to plant a garden and feel despondent when the slugs eat the broccoli, but astonished when the cauliflower grows.
I want to swim in a warm lake and dip into a cold sea.
I want to fall off a horse, but gently, onto bales of straw.
I want to sleep in a tent and cook on a Coleman.
I want to drink too much: slur, hiccup and get a bit maudlin, but just the odd time.
I want to buy an extravagant item of clothing that I really can’t afford because I know it’s going to change my life.
I want it still to be hanging in my wardrobe 20 years later when my life has changed (buy maybe not because of it).
I want to climb a mountain and examine my blisters at the top while eating chocolate.
I want to ride a bike in flipflops and learn the hard way why it’s not a good idea.
I want to play the Rizla game and cheat.
I want to bake cakes and pavlovas, watch some rise and watch some fall, and see it as a metaphor for life.
I want to travel to places that make me gasp, stop my heart, or make it beat more quickly.
I want to feel the relief of coming home and the joy of having people to come home to.
I want to slow dance to Peggy Lee singing, ‘The Folks Who Live On The Hill’.
I want to freak out to ‘Walking On Sunshine’.
I want to drive in hot weather with the roof down singing along to ‘Desperado’.
I want to keep learning and know that I’ll still never understand.
I want someone to look after me when I’m sick.
I want to stay in bed all day and eat ice cream straight out of a tub.
I don’t want to marry a prince (or princess) – unless he or she really talks me into it.
I want to lie on my back on the grass on a warm night and watch a meteor shower and feel freed by my insignificance.
I want to dine alone in a high-class restaurant and love my own company.
I want to dine in a high-class restaurant in the company of someone I love.
I want to play music and sing.
I want to walk down the street and say hello to strangers.
I want to drill holes in walls.
I want to fall asleep at the theatre, but not snore.
I want to write bad poetry (well, I would rather it would be good, but…)
I want to be modest, but not falsely so.
I want to be kind.
I want to be someone people can share their problems with and feel all the better for it.
I want to smile lots.
I want to be a good friend, and I want to have good friends; lots of them.
…..and I want to do it all for as long as possible.
‘A Prayer For My Daughter’, by W.B. Yeats (excerpt)
‘May she be granted beauty and yet not
Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
Being made beautiful overmuch,
Consider beauty a sufficient end,
Lose natural kindness and maybe
The heart-revealing intimacy
That chooses right, and never find a friend.’
For Quinn, a beautiful girl, born in Ottawa on 18th May 2018. May she grow to become everything she wants to be.