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Could be worse. Could be a Hooters girl.

In recent weeks, Thalia has become obsessed with firefighters. Ever since a preschool class trip to the local station, she has decided that when she grows up she will be a firefighter.

I am delighted, I tell her. I remind her that she can be anything she wants, and that she’ll have to learn to be very strong and very tough so she can hold that big hose to put out the fires. She will have to be brave, and work hard. She will have to eat more than spaghetti with butter at dinner so she can have bigger muscles.

I’m extra thrilled when her preschool teacher informs me that Thalia’s one question to the guys at the station was whether there are girl firefighters.

But deep inside, past the feminist brain and the progressive heart is a Jewish mother’s soul. And let me tell you, it is dying. DYING.

A firefighter? What, are you kidding me?

“A firefighter and an architect,” I joke when she mentions her future career plans. “A firefighter and a scientist.”

“No mommy,” she corrects me. “Just a firefighter.”

This past Friday, her teachers invited all the parents to the classroom to see the transformation of the classroom around the firehouse studies. The walls were lined with bold, drippy paintings of ladders and hoses, a wobbly red handmade firetruck was on display next to the cardboard play axe, and one corner was beautifully made-up as a station, complete with dress-up clothes, handmade walkie-talkies, and a control panel made of bottle tops. The highlight there was a corner featuring a silver “pole” by a stack of secured climbing blocks about three feet off the ground.

The children elbowed each other out of the way and took their turns scrambling up the blocks in hats and face masks, then posing for an Adorable Photo Op before jumping off and making that WHOOOSHHHH sound as if they were sliding down the pole. Thalia was being shy, and I wasn’t going to miss my Adorable Photo Op. So I cleared the way (move outta my way, you kids!),  hoisted Thalia up, and got a look through the lens at my future firefighter.

It became clear that she wasn’t shy, she was terrified. All of three feet up.

I lowered my shoulders, relieved.

“Thalia,” I finally asked, “Why exactly do you want to be a firefighter?”

“Because Leo and Milo do, and if we are in the same firefighter station, we can play that funny game we like where we are like laughing and doing this…”

And she pantomimed playing air bass against her tiny chest.

Oh, awesome. She doesn’t want to be a firefighter at all. What she really wants to be is bass player in a boy band.

{ 63 comments… add one }

  • Kim 3.22.2010, 1:16 pm

    That is so cute! I love the way their minds work and I can't wait till my little guys are telling me what they want to be when they grow up (my father-in-law has decided my oldest son possesses all the characteristics of a great garbage man… very ambitious!).

  • Mrs. Q. 3.22.2010, 1:23 pm

    Well, I think there are risks in both those professions! I hope I will support my children in whatever decisions and career paths they choose, but secretly I hope they find happiness sitting safely at a desk all day. Is that terrible?

  • Fairly Odd Mother 3.22.2010, 1:58 pm

    I had the same flash-forward firefighter moment this weekend while D stood wielding a hose and spraying everything around him. Although I think he liked spraying the girls the most.

    But, god, I hope that “silver pole” came from some special “pretend you're a firefighter” kit and not the teacher's house. (heh)

  • Carolyn...Online 3.22.2010, 2:04 pm

    My husband STILL wants to be a firefighter – but what he really wants is to wash the truck. So basically he regrets not ever working in a carwash.

  • Marketing Mommy 3.22.2010, 2:24 pm

    When my little sister was 5 she really, really wanted to be a Marine (talk about killing my PhD-holding Jewish mother).

    Instead, she spent a few years as a long-haired, broom-skirted, pot-smoking, unwashed vegan hippie.

    Now she's more bourgeois than me.

  • justmakingourway 3.22.2010, 2:30 pm

    Well, the girl bass players in bands are always cool. At least in my book.

    My heart stops too when my boy mentions things like policeman or soldier. Admirable goals, to be sure, but I'm not sure I could take the stress!

  • Jane 3.22.2010, 2:30 pm

    It is so fascinating how their minds work and the solutions they come up with to their dilemmas! Whenever I ask my 3 year old what she is going to be when she grows up her answer is always “have babies, then I will be a Mommy and you will be a Grandma”.

  • Julie Pippert 3.22.2010, 3:03 pm

    LOL

    My oldest wants to be a FARMER. With FARM ANIMALS. This is the antithesis of me. I'm allergic to farms. Seriously.

    I'm afraid she's pretty determined.

    And inside I am similar to you except a Liberal Arts Mother and therefore on intimate terms with hard work for little money or other forms of accolades and I am DYING too.

    Except she's 8 with an engineers brain and maybe she'll just be an engineer with a second home that is a farm and rescue animal spot.

    The younger one wants to be a fairy princess OB/GYN which I say is TOTALLY do-able.

  • jerseygirl89 3.22.2010, 3:05 pm

    That is a great story. Girl bassists are awesome. My son wants to drive a train or be a racecar driver. Sometimes I have nightmares about having to go to Nascar events. But since he's only 4 I'm pretty sure I can talk him out if before I have to bleach my hair and buy white tank tops.

  • Mom101 3.22.2010, 3:07 pm

    Oh Julie, my daughter also has fairy princess somewhere in the plans.

    The other day she asked me how a girl gets to be a princess and I said that one option is to be born to a king and queen.

    She asked how I could become a queen.

    Hate dashing her dreams so young.

  • Villagepig 3.22.2010, 3:08 pm

    I think that it is the age for wild ambitions. In our house, twin 1 wants to be a driver (when asked if he wants to drive racing cars or trucks he says neither, just a car driver). Twin 2 is adament that he will grow up to be a pink fairy.

    I'm just happy that they're setting their own trends :)

  • Susan 3.22.2010, 3:09 pm

    Have to say I'm with you. Given the choice between occupations that involve poles, I'd pick firefighter too. The good news is that they adopt every career they learn about at her age. Based more on the accessories than the actual job duties.

    Wait until it's the same job over a period of a year. That's when it gets a little real. Doug wants to be a videogame designer, and I'm thinking it's a pretty realistic goal. If he survives 4th grade that is.

  • Jenny Grace 3.22.2010, 3:16 pm

    When I was her age, I wanted to be a dolphin when I grew up. And I was pretty sure that was a possibility.

  • BarbaraCA 3.22.2010, 3:26 pm

    For a very long time, my son wanted to be a garbageman and it was painful to be confronted with a level of snobbyness I didn't know I possessed. I wanted to be a mermaid until I was maybe 12 (just part-time, of course).

  • Liza 3.22.2010, 3:33 pm

    My son is determined to be a Pokemon Trainer, maybe even a Gym Leader when he grows up. He's very upset that I won't take him to go find a wild Pokemon of his own.

  • marcoda 3.22.2010, 3:33 pm

    My four year old wanted to be a space doctor for the longest time. Then she said she'd be an astronaut first and THEN a doctor. She has since changed her mind again and is now sticking to being an astronaut. I'll admit, I'm a little disappointed. Was really looking forward to visiting her space clinic.

  • Mom101 3.22.2010, 3:42 pm

    I LOVE hearing about your kids' dreams. Space doctor? Car driver?

    Keep them coming!

  • La Mere Joie 3.22.2010, 3:43 pm

    That's really cute! My youngest wants to be an artist, but my oldest wants to be a lawyer. So I feel like at least she can support her little sister! :) Just so long as they let me live at the Atria in my old age, they can be whatever they want to be!

  • Cloud 3.22.2010, 3:44 pm

    This is sweet.

    If it makes you feel any better, when I was Thalia's age I wanted to be a carpenter. And then a country music singer.

    Now I'm a scientist (who can't sing in tune, so its a good thing didn't pursue the country music thing).

  • Liz@thisfullhouse 3.22.2010, 3:52 pm

    Oldest girls want to be journalists (hold me!) while, youngest is still in her “rockstar” stage (heh) and my 11 year-old son has wanted to join the military since he was old enough to ride the go carts on the military base with his Uncle Bud. If only it were that simple, right?

  • Magpie 3.22.2010, 3:59 pm

    I wanna sing doo-wop in her band.

  • cheri 3.22.2010, 4:10 pm

    i think female bass players are cuter than firefighters…

  • Amy 3.22.2010, 4:14 pm

    My son, age 6, plans to be an Astronaut Lawyer.

    My daughter, age 4, is going to be a lawyer, with a pink desk.. But she's also going to be a princess. And she's also going to own a store that sells only princess stuff. For free.

  • alice laussade 3.22.2010, 4:16 pm

    I'm hoping my daughter wants to be a lesbian nun. Ya know, do something cutting edge but stay away from boys who (as Twilight has taught us) are either vampires or werewolves and in either case cannot be trusted.

    But, so far she says she just wants to be “Baaa” or “mEMEMEMEEEEEEE!”

  • Coma Girl 3.22.2010, 4:26 pm

    Haha! But just in case she does, the FDNY only work a few days a month, so she'll have plenty of time to also be a scientist.

    And she'll get a pension :)

  • alice 3.22.2010, 4:28 pm

    In one of Henry's preschools, they had an end-of-the-year handout that listed all the kids and what they wanted to be when they grow up. Henry's response: “How should I know? I'm just a kid.”

    (Right now, however, he wants to be “an adventurer.”

  • JayMonster 3.22.2010, 4:28 pm

    My daughter has both short and LONG TERM goals.

    She plans on being a Figure Skater in the 2018 Olympics.

    From there she wants to be Veternarian AND a teacher (hoping she plans on teaching Veternary Medicine)

  • Alexis 3.22.2010, 4:31 pm

    India wants to be Super Power Girl, who is a vampire, a werewolf, and a firefighter, rolled into one.

    When Willa was little, she wanted to be a doctor called “Dr. Levine.”

    Bea wants to rule the world.

  • Motherhood Uncensored 3.22.2010, 4:43 pm

    Mermaid.

    Because who wouldn't want to wear a shell shaped bra every single day?

  • Instant Hausfrau 3.22.2010, 4:49 pm

    Nice! Small-child logic is the best!

    My favorite along these lines is my girl's best friend, who got to visit the Olympics after taking ski lessons. During the Vancouver madness, she turned to her mother and asked, “Do you get your gold medal after you have your babies, or before?”

    I love that girl.

  • Mean Mommy 3.22.2010, 4:52 pm

    My kindergartener has been pretty stubbornly set on being a monster truck driver for quite a while now, while my older boy shifts from doctor to teacher to maybe a teacher and then a doctor.

    Ain't it a hoot how we bring our hopes to bear when a tot proclaims a career choice we KNOW intellectually is going to change four zillion times before he goes to college? When my brother was a tot, he declared he wanted to be a leaf-raker. My dad puffed up his chest and said, “well, you make sure you own the company,” as if my brother was REALLY going follow through on his five-year-old plans and rake leaves for a living.

  • Carmen 3.22.2010, 5:36 pm

    My 3 year old son wants to be a rock climber, most days. The rest of the time? A baby astronaut. Not a regular astronaut, but a baby one.

  • Kami 3.22.2010, 5:40 pm

    Little ones are so impressionable and so easily swayed. Have a backbone, people! (Though when I say that to my 4 yr old he says, “Mommy, I have a backbone. Humans have skeletons inside their skin.”) Anyway, he wants to be Johnny Cash. But not when he grows up. Now.

  • mindy 3.22.2010, 5:46 pm

    My five year old wants to be a mommy/artist/designer, which I have figured out to mean she wants to decorate her house for any and all holidays with as much crap as possible. Total backlash against my minimalist tendencies.

    She used to want to be a doctor, until she realized that sometimes there is blood involved in that. “Ugh, don't say the word blood to me!” would not exactly go over well in the trauma unit.

  • Scat 3.22.2010, 5:54 pm

    4yo wants to be Lightning McQueen–the car, NOT the car driver. Or he wants to build things. “Houses or buildings like an architect, honey?” “No, mom, just things.”

    7yo wants to be an opera singer. He has been collecting videos and CDs of opera performances and practices at least two hours every day (for at least a year not) so I am getting nervous.

    As for myself, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

  • MollyinMinn 3.22.2010, 6:27 pm

    Ha ha! I didn't see that coming. Adorable!

  • Cloud 3.22.2010, 8:08 pm

    Carmen, you have got to get the book called Baby Brains. Mr and Mrs Brains have a very smart baby, and one of the things he does is be an astronaut. It is very cute.

    I didn't tell you what my 3 year old wants to be in my original comment. That is because she hasn't really hit that phase yet- if I ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she tells me how when she gets big, she'll take care of me. Because I will have gotten little.

  • Elaine 3.22.2010, 9:12 pm

    Have you read Thalia “Chief Rhino to the Rescue”? He's a great firefighter who throws a party. And the companion in the “Whoops-a-daisy” series is “Doctor Meow's Big Emergency.” I have been giving these brilliant books as gifts at every birthday party, lately, and every toddler I know always wants both, so that they can dream of being both firefighters and doctors. Maybe because of all the books we read, my own toddler desperately wants to be a Princess Firefighter Doctor Fairy Cupcake-Maker, all at once, while wearing only pink.

  • NG 3.22.2010, 11:31 pm

    Mine year old told me she wanted to be a flag pole when she grew up. I'd take the fireman.

  • Stacia 3.22.2010, 11:37 pm

    Whichever Thalia picks, firefighters and bass players both have killer wardrobes and accessories. So she's all set!

    My oldest wants to make dresses. She says her little brother will sew the buttons. I'm thinking we need to have a talk about child labor laws, or at least indentured servitude.

  • dusty earth mother 3.23.2010, 12:26 am

    My son wants to be the Alphabet when he grows up. That is a bit too existential to think about; gives me a headache.

    I love the image of Thalia playing air bass against her tiny chest. Perfect.

  • Ironic Mom 3.23.2010, 1:30 am

    You can't get cooler than a bass player. When my son was two, he pointed to pictures of occupations, saying he wanted to be a “street performer” and a “dancer” and a “jester.” We still laugh.

  • Alex 3.23.2010, 1:42 am

    Ha!! She can be in the NEW Village People and then she can be BOTH!!

  • Red Dirt Mummy 3.23.2010, 1:57 am

    I love listening to kids talking about what they want to be when they 'grow up'. I'm 38 and I still don't know!
    The 4 yr old girl child wants to be a doctor. Just because.
    Last year the then-6 yr old boy child announced that when he was a teacher he'd be nice to kids. Hmmm… mum and dad are both teachers so we kinda had to point out that there were other career options. The he decided he'd still be a teacher but in his spare time he'd be a fireman and a pilot and maybe draw houses (architect), as well as an electrician and a chef. Since he's colour-blind I can discount a few of them straight away and it takes away some of the worry :)

  • Nikki 3.23.2010, 2:43 am

    My 4yo daughter wants to be a zoo vet– she wants to work with the lions and tigers in particular, and she plans to bring a dog with her as she works. Best of luck, kiddo.

  • Beta Dad 3.23.2010, 5:50 am

    My wife wants ME to be a firefighter. I have to cover her eyes every time we drive by the firehouse.

  • Lanita Moss 3.23.2010, 12:17 pm

    My daughter wants to be a lawyer, then a cheerleader…in that order.

  • Julie 3.23.2010, 1:57 pm

    What is up with the noodles and butter? Drives me bonkers.

  • red pen mama 3.23.2010, 4:40 pm

    My 5yo daughter wants to be a skin doctor (i.e. dermatologist). She was concerned recently that skin doctors couldn't marry and have babies, but I assured her they can.

    My 3yo daughter wants to be a police. Not a police woman, not a police officer. “Just a police,” she tells me.

  • Anonymous 3.23.2010, 5:37 pm

    The son wants to work with me, airline ground staff (so many reasons why that won't be happening). He also has wanted to be a doctor who drives steam trains and is a fireman, all ath the same time. He also wants to work with his daddy sometimes, because daddy has an office in a block near the train lines and he could watch them come and go all day.

  • Issas Crazy World 3.23.2010, 6:04 pm

    I'm laughing at this. She's so dang cute.

    My daughter, at five, still wants to be a Transformer when she grows up. But a good one she assures me.

  • Issas Crazy World 3.23.2010, 6:06 pm

    Oh and my oldest still wants to be a Supreme Court Judge. Her reasoning? So she always gets the last word.

  • Nora 3.24.2010, 4:01 pm

    Here is what I'll have in the future… Naomi (7yr/old) will be a newer version of Hannah Montana, who cares for a good voice, she just wants to be a celebrity.
    Zoe (3 1/2 yr/old) wants to be a mom… Maybe a mom and a doctor?? No, just a mom working in front of a computer from her home-office… Figures…ahh??
    I just love how they switch careers from one week to the next :)

  • GingerB 3.24.2010, 5:09 pm

    My daughter tells me she just wants to ge married and wants to know where to find a husband. I told her maybe she could meet one when she went to college and she says she doesn't want to go to college, just to get married and have babies.

    You have given me hope that perhaps there is some secret other wish beshind the June Cleaver fantasy. But what might it be?

  • J at www.jellyjules.com 3.24.2010, 6:36 pm

    I love that. :) She's so darned cute. My inner feminist is currently dying, because I am being forced to support my daughter's desire to try out for cheerleader next week. ACK! I am in no way sure how this happened, but she wants it a LOT, so I'm on her side. Sigh.

  • Anonymous 3.25.2010, 6:21 pm

    LOL! Now the title makes sense! I just wish my little girl's future job won't be so… vague!

  • Summer Embee 3.25.2010, 10:21 pm

    This is great. My 3-year-old daughter alternates between being an astronaut and being a teenage mom. My husband's face during the “and then I'll be 16 and have a baby in my tummy!” moments is priceless.

  • Josette at Halushki 3.26.2010, 2:58 am

    lol…ah yes. Well, one daughter wants to be an architect and a figure skater; the other an actress and a poet. Maybe they'll be fire fighters.

    I also giggled at your title. Up until I was about 7, I wanted to be a go-go dancer. My mother obliged by buying me white patent leather boots. I loved those boots. The dancing in front of people, not so much.

  • amanda 3.26.2010, 9:13 pm

    She can rock fire-fightin' boots on stage with her fierce performance clothes.

  • Mary P (Barnmaven) 3.27.2010, 12:46 am

    My 8 yo wants to be a teacher. And a mommy. And President. And an artist. And a dog trainer. And a writer. I will never EVER tell her that when I was eight I wanted to be a playboy bunny.

  • Katie 3.31.2010, 11:45 pm

    Kids are so cute at that age. My son's father is a firefighter. His grandmother and grandfather are both firefighters as well as his great-grandparents. His Aunt Becky is one, as well as his Aunt Liz. I know for a fact, a solid fact, like the sky is blue, that he's going to be one. All you can do is pray and make sure that they get the best education possible so that they can be safe.

  • Anonymous 4.15.2010, 7:43 pm

    My 4 year old wants to be a bullet train driver. Here's hoping they come to North America. Sad thing is he is obsessed with trains since 18 months old (books, toys, documentaries, museums, subways, etc.) and his grandfather who passed before he was born was a railroader all his life..and my brothers and I never cared to listen to anything train related….he missed his chance to have a super fan.

  • Anonymous 6.23.2010, 5:01 am

    whats wrong with being a hooters girl? I worked there while attending college fulltime as a pre-med undergrad to pay for my car AND all of the expenses I acquired applying to medical school.
    Today I'm a student doctor half way to my second degree.

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