I suppose it’s natural. You start kindergarten and then immediately begin trying to solve the world’s most challenging riddle: What will I be when I grow up?
I knew Elliott was going to make riddle-solving more challenging than the average kindergartner when he asked me who was in charge of deciding what we do.
“What do you mean, who decides?” I asked.
Elliott has very little patience when I don’t understand what he considers to be straightforward questions.
“I mean,” he said, clearly frustrated we weren’t beyond this part of our conversation, “who is going to tell me what I’m going to do when I grow up.”
Now I get it. Elliott is under the impression that someone somewhere is responsible for handing out job assignments. I’m glad that’s not the case. I’d be left wondering if that person shouldn’t be unassigned his own job given the current unemployment rate. I’d also be wondering how one person was granted the enviable power to assign some very interesting jobs. Rather random – or with motive. And which of those would be behind the decision to have someone spend his summer pulling weeds from sewage beds at a local restaurant. A job I once held. I’d rather believe someone assigned me that job than accept the reality that my grandfather acquired me that job by cashing in a favor owed him by an old friend. A favor.
“Well, Elliott, God has given you certain gifts and talents. It’s up to you, with the help of your family and teachers and friends, to figure out what you’re supposed to be in this world. But in the end, you get to decide what you’ll be”
“Good,” he said, like he was hoping that was the answer. “I’m going to make video games or be the president.”
I thought about that a second. Then I looked at him in the rear view mirror. He seemed to realize how far ahead of the game he was at 5 years old by simply having his career choices narrowed to 2.
Then I gave him reason to prolong his feel good moment.
“Actually, most presidents have another career before they get in to politics. Some are lawyers. Businessmen. Actors. Football players. Many of them do many different things and have a lot of experience before becoming the president.”
“Has one ever made video games?” he asked.
Has one ever made video games? No, I’m really asking. Has a video game maker ever gone on to be president. My guess is no, since the last 2 decades worth of presidents have been far more Ivy League than Nintendo.
But maybe it’s time. Could it be that claiming victory over the first 12 levels of Angry Birds is enough foreign policy experience to lead the country in and out of war. And as far as fiscal experience goes, I’ve seen the money today’s kids pump into video games. They’re shelling out far more cash than they’re bringing in. Which is exactly what is required of today’s president.
And so for now, that is Elliott’s career path. Video game developer. Then president.
Just to prove he’s committed, Elliott announced to Katie the other day after school that when he grows up he’s going to release the game Angry Birds Shark Bait. And for anyone needing a better understanding of what Elliott means by grow up – he’s releasing this game when he is 7 or 8. I’m sure she smiled with pride and promised him his mom would be the first to download it. Later they picked Ian up from Kiddie Kingdom. When Ian was settled in the backseat next to the not so future video game developer, Elliott asked him something I’m sure he’d been dying to ask him since he made his earlier announcement to Katie:
“Ian, I bet you can’t wait until I grow up, right?”
Ian, caught off guard by the suggestion that his brother wasn’t already grown up, said “Yes, Elliott, I can’t wait for you to grow up. Why can’t I wait for you to grow up?”
“Because when I grow up I’m going to release the Angry Birds Shark Bait game and you’ll get to play it.”
Ian did with that information what he always does. He processed it and stored it away to be used on a future day. A day when Elliott would talk about his video game dreams, and Ian would be prepared not to be outdone.
2 days later……
Elliott told me today when he was 7 or 8 he was going to release the Angry Birds Shark Bait game. Ian was standing nearby and came and stood in front of me like he was cued by those words.
“Dad,” he said, “tomorrow I’m going to release the Angry Birds Creepy Voices game.”
Which makes it official. I’m raising two future presidents.