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ODDS & ENDS
The When-I-Grow-Up Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke.

by Hal Evan Caplan
November 28, 2009

The When-I-Grow-Up Lesson_Hal Evan Caplan-Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke.My Tyke is my teacher. He is excellent at reminding me of things that I have forgotten, bringing things back to my attention and even making me think about the importance of life and life's little lessons. My teacher does this with ease and innocence and that is what makes it so powerful. These reminders and lessons are revealed eventually, whether I see it at the time or not.

As many children do, they express what they want to "be" when they grow up. As parents we embrace this and certainly encourage this thought process. Some children stick with these dreams and make them realities, while other children may change their minds many, many times. Here are two examples: I have a childhood friend who expressed that he wanted to be a police officer as far back as he can remember (he's points back to second grade) and guess what? He is! And then there is my buddy Bill, who has expressed multiple times that he still doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up, and he is 42 years old.

My teacher recently brought this topic up in conversation on our way to his school bus stop. As we were standing there, waiting for the bus he noticed the moon. It was bright, low in the sky and very large. He was a little confused because it was daytime and he thought the moon was only visible at night. It was then he expresses that he wanted to be an astronaut and fly to the moon.

"Dad, can I fly to the moon?" He asked.
"Sure you can... you can do anything you want as long as you put your mind to it." I replied.

Then he thought about it for a minute.

"Dad." He said.
"Yes, son." I answered.
"I really want you to come with me when I go to the moon." He added.

I thanked him for including me in on his plan to go to the moon, as he rushed onto the bus. I was interested in continuing this conversation with him once I was home from work. Unfortunately, it slipped my mind.

After dinner, it was bath time and it was my turn to give my teacher his bath. It then dawned on me; this would be a great opportunity to finish our conversation from this morning. As I sat on the stool, next to the tub, I asked my teacher what he wanted to be when he grew up... just to see if it was the same from this morining. What I didn't know at the time was my teacher was about to teach me yet another valuable lesson.

"Hummmm." He thought.
"A police officer?" I blurted out.
"No." He stated.
"A fireman?" I asked
"No." He said.
"A doctor?"
"No." He answered.
"I know, an astronaut." I blurted out.
"No... that was this morning, but not right now." He explained.
"Then what?" I questioned.

At this point, his head was full of shampoo and out of the blue, he stood up in the bath tub, faced the mirror over the sink and began to "sculpt" his hair with the shampoo suds. He first mastered the Mohawk, then moved onto the Unicorn look, and then the side of the head Mohawk until finally deciding on the multiple spike look. Once he stopped laughing, he began to sing. First he sang some bits and pieces from his favorite artists, who include - and no, I'm not making this up – Kid Rock, AC/DC, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley and Rascal Flatts. (Of course he is only allowed to listen to the clean versions of any of these artists.)

He began with AC/DC’s "Back in black" and ended with U2's "With or without you." Now take in mind, he only recalls a few lines from each song. So, he began to put them together, which made no sense, but hey, whatever works... Once this series of lyrics ended he began to make some up, on his own, out of thin air... He sang, "The boy can be whatever he wants to be, that boy is meeeeeee..."

Then my teacher stopped singing and got this weird look on his face. He turned to me and said...

"I know I can be anything I want to be when I grow up... A fireman or a singer. Will you be proud of me no matter what?" He asked.

I was caught a little off guard at his question and I quickly replied, "Of course I will be proud of you know matter what you choose to be."

He looked over at me and smiled as he began to sing again.

I was still a little taken by that remark and I sat there motionless, just watching my teacher...sing. A smile appeared on my face and I thought to myself, he is going to be just fine.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: Let your children know that they can accomplish anything and let them know that you support their dreams.

About the Author:
Originally from Colorado; now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors, especially snowboarding and plays ice hockey on a weekly basis...and of course, always learns from his son.


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