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.