I want to be a BANANA! - Career aspirations gone crazy!

Did you try asking your 3-year-old what she wants to be? If you haven’t already, please do. For you may be missing out on overly creative ideas of what one can be. They may not be out-of-the world, but will likely be out-of-the-box.

I was discussing professions with my five-year-old in a ‘who-is-what’ kind of way when I happened to pop the question to my nearly three-year-old. “So, what do you want to be, big boy”, I eagerly asked. Like an excited mother I think I was expecting a clever answer. It turns out I had not learned from my previous experiences with my older son. So, I was a little taken back when he answered B-A-N-A-N-A! 

What banana? I thought. I knew I hadn’t been able to focus on my younger one, being preoccupied by my older school-going boy. But, was he beginning to lack? Well, all those were my immediate thoughts before I decided to restrain them from going into overdrive. He gave the widest grin, happy to disrupt our serious discussion. He made clear of his ridicule for the well-known professions of doctor, architect, plumber, builder, teacher etc. 

I started taking it easy, anticipating great fun ahead. A three-year-old normally uses 300 words and he was about to shoot some of them from his limited vocabulary, dressed as career options. It had to be interesting. On being probed why, he said it is “nice and yummy”. To this my older one sensibly interrupted, “He would peel off his head and eat himself up”. Great logic!

“You can’t be a banana. What else do you want to be”,I questioned. Quick came the reply - an “Elephant”. When questioned, he convincingly said, “It’s very goodie and nice.”  True words which somehow didn’t sit well with his older brother and he quipped, “He can’t. He is a human being. Not big enough and not very high.” Well, that’s true too. 

“You were not born an elephant. You need to be someone else”, I explained. He thought hard, tapping his head with his index finger. “Police car”, he said with the most gravity you can see on a toddler’s face. He expanded, “It’s very nice and kill baddies." Good reason I thought. But my older one was less convinced. He dismissed again,“No, he is not metal, or wheels, or siren”. My toddler was very disappointed by now.

‘You can be what you want to be’, Isn’t that what we so often say? But I think that someone got too stuck in the narrative. It had begun to backfire and I had to do some damage control quickly. “You need to be something human”, I attempted to explain.

He thought hard once again, buzzing with a ‘hmmmmm’ noise and moving his eyeballs this time. “Spiderman”, he victoriously roared. There was no point explaining how we weren’t talking about super humans before, only humans. Post some thought about how he has not been bitten by a spider before to qualify as a Spiderman, his elder brother reluctantly agreed, “OK, and I will be Iron Man because he has loads of inventions and he is a genius”. Given that he dreams about saving the world at night-time, it wasn’t totally unexpected. 

A recent study* suggests that primary school children in Britain popularly aspire to be sportsmen, teachers and vets. But for my rather little ones, superheroes isn’t only a reasonable career option but also mutually agreeable.

Whatever they may be, it is worth capturing their career choices whilst their minds are rich with vivid dreams and boundless imagination. And who knows, they may achieve something erstwhile super human!

*Survey backed by University College London and the OECD, January 2018

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