August 2, 2013
By Ekta R. Garg
One of the advantages of visiting my parents—other than not having to worry about planning meals—is that I get to visit my high school friends who still live in town. During this trip I got to see three of them, and in the span of two hours in a Barnes and Noble Starbucks we updated one another on our lives.
“So do your kids know yet what they want to do when they grow up?” one friend asked. Considering she now teaches at the high school we attended together, her question didn’t surprise me.
“Not really,” I said. I went on to tell her about Five’s ability to climb learning curves incredibly fast. At the risk of sounding cliché, Five seems to have somewhat of a magic touch. I added for my friend that Five certainly harbors the temperament of an artist, but at her current age we still don’t know what she wants to do. We’re still at the point where her life’s vocation changes every two or three weeks (“Dog trainer” is her current favorite.)
Seven, I went on, shares many of my traits and likes. But we don’t know for her either what she’d like to do when she grows up.
Earlier today we got to spend time with a young woman we’ve known for years who is now a college student. Because I hadn’t gotten a chance before this morning to talk to her about what she’s pursuing in college and also because she’s attending the same university I did, we had quite a bit to discuss. Everyone in the family got involved in the conversation, and when she left we continued talking about education and even touched on what Seven and Five might do when they get ready to attend a university.
I started thinking about Seven and Five as college students. My parents always encouraged my sister and me in our education—to be the best so we could potentially pursue jobs at almost any level in our chosen fields. My husband and I want to do the same for our own children.
Also, admittedly, we don’t want our kids picking something to the equivalent of basket weaving for their vocations. We have examples of both ambitious students and lazy, disinterested students in front of us, and we hope we can guide our children into the first category. But even with the best of intentions and gentle nudging toward professions that can guarantee some sort of financial stability, sometimes young people choose random fields and spend the rest of their lives drifting from one job to the next.
Will our children welcome our nudging, or will they reject it? It’s so much fun to sit and speculate about what they might like to do when they grow up, but I’m also conscientious of the fact that small words and gestures on my behalf could possibly turn the girls in one direction or the other. Little things I say or do could encourage or discourage them to try something. And that shade of encouragement or discouragement could color the rest of their lives.
I hope I encourage them into something that they enjoy and also something they can rely on for years to come in the future. I’m sure whatever they do end up choosing will provide everyone with an opportunity to encourage them in new ways. I hope I can help them when they decide to pursue their life’s passions, but more than that I hope they can find a way to pursue their life’s passions on a regular basis like I do.