This morning, after walking Anders to his classroom and saying good bye, I noticed that his teacher decorated a new bulletin board in the hallway. Across the top of the board in bubble letters was written “When I grow up…” Stapled below it were many construction paper graduation hats with the career aspiration of each child in Anders’ class and their name.
Addison wants to be a nurse, Jack a doctor, and Claire aspires to teach. I smiled reading the names of Anders’ playmates and began to scan the board for my son’s name. I couldn’t wait to learn what he envisioned, at the age of five, that his future held for him.
Finally, I found his name on a blue hat in the corner.
“I want to be a penguin,” it read in permanent black marker.
Of all of Anders’ traits it is his quirkiness I love most. He has this way of looking at the world that is completely, well, bizarre. It is unusual. He is unusual and I love the way the time I spend with him is always out of the ordinary.
That afternoon when I picked him up from school, I asked his teacher about the bulletin board. She chuckled when I mentioned it.
“Ah! Yes. When I asked him what he wanted to be, he was adamant that he wanted to grow into a penguin. I tried to ask him what his second choice was and he was certain that if he really wanted to grow up to be a penguin, he could.”
Later, alone in the car with my son, I decided to see if his aspiration would change with the day and his mood.
“Hey, Anders. What would you like to be when you grow up?”
Without pause he replied, “I’m going to be a penguin.”
“A penguin is a different type of animal though, Anders. You will grow into a man.”
“Mom, trust me. I will figure it out. I’m smart. Can you turn the radio up now?”
I may very well be raising the very first future man-penguin. They are a smartass breed.