Colin has never liked school, mostly because he feels he could use the time in better ways. I get that. School is a lot of hours, and Lego construction is shockingly absent from the new common core.
Before he started, I naively thought he’d love school, but I should have realized he’d hate it. When he was two or three, people used to ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up. “Maybe a firefighter? Or taxi driver?” they’d ask. He loves vehicles, so these seemed like good options.
But Colin always gave a puzzled look and said, “I just want to play.”
I have to admire that answer. When I was a kid and people asked me the same question, I answered, “doctor” or “lawyer” like the obedient little schmuck I am. Then after school ended and I was thrust into the adult world of work, and all those dinners that used to magically appear on the table suddenly disappeared, I realized I’d been had. How did Colin figure out at age two what I didn’t realize until I was 23?
Still, I can’t let Colin be a mooch forever. When he was five, I knew it was time to get serious about career planning, so I asked him again what he wanted to be when he grew up.
“I want to drive a limousine Volkswagen school bus taxi that goes on railroad tracks,” he said.
Obviously I had to shoot down that dream. “You can’t earn money for that. You have to pick something people will pay you to do.”
He thought about this and then said, “I want to open a dealership that sells limousine Volkswagen school bus taxis. And I will buy one.”
That almost sounds like a job! “Good idea!”
“Yeah, and someone else will work at the dealership.”
“Oh. But will you still be in charge of it?”
“No. It will be someone else’s dealership. I will just drive mine around.”
I guess I should be impressed that he found a trickier way to say, “I just want to play.”
Colin is eight now, and his current long-term plan is to live at home forever. He does want to have a family, and he says that Andy and I will help raise his children. At least he’s clear about his goals. Some kids string their parents along, pretending they will move out, but Andy and I have been warned upfront that we are raising a freeloader.
Colin sometimes says that he will open a restaurant based on obscure Lego characters that no one has heard of. But when it’s time to put dinner on the table, is this future restaurant owner in the kitchen? No, everything’s left to Mom and Dad. And those pizzas won’t put themselves in the oven.
Annabelle, who has not yet learned to fight the school system, says she will open a Lambie restaurant. She will not serve lamb at this restaurant; instead, it will be filled with pictures of her stuffed lamb. The menu will consist entirely of green food, as Lambie is green.
I know. It’s a terrible business plan. There’s no demand for Lambie restaurants that do not serve lamb. But whenever I try to broach this, Lambie gets very upset, and it’s really hard to talk to Lambie when he’s tantruming. He’s sensitive about the consumption of lamb and has banned it from our household. Annabelle’s stuffed fish and pig likewise object to the slaughtering of their kind, and Colin and Andy live in fear of Annabelle acquiring a stuffed cow or chicken. It should be noted, however, that when bacon is on the table, Annabelle scarfs away, and Piggy’s cries for justice are silenced.
To support her dreams of entrepreneurship, Annabelle is eager to help in the kitchen. Often, she sees Andy or I start to cook and declares, “Oh! I will help!” This is very cute and thoughtful. But not at all helpful. Sometimes her efforts to “help” make me appreciate her slacker brother, who’s off inventing a monster truck jet with wheels that retract automatically—totally ignoring my suggestions to do some market research first.
They used to both want to help in the kitchen, and then they’d argue over who was taking more space on the stool and whose turn it was to stir and generally succeeded in driving me nuts. But these days they want to help less and less, and even Annabelle is drawn away by the creation of the monster truck jet with retractable wheels. Now I find I miss them shoving each other off the stool and stirring so vigorously that most of the ingredients land in their hair.
Swayed by her brother, Annabelle also plans to live at home forever and raise her kids in our house. Colin says he’ll marry Annabelle, which means I’ll never have to deal with a new and difficult daughter or son in law. But we have a baby boy on the way, and Colin has noticed the problem here. What if the baby also wants to marry Annabelle? It’s a real worry, only solvable by having another daughter. Andy said this baby is the last one, but that was before he realized this snag in the children’s life goals.
Colin and Annabelle have taught me that I can’t plan their lives. All the parenting experts say to let children blossom into whoever they want to become, and my children want to blossom into freeloaders who let their parents raise their genetically questionable kids. I had a slightly different vision for them, but who am I to stand in the way of their dreams?