Career Path Wrath

pathWhat do you want to be when you grow up?

That question is fun to answer when you’re six because you can say stuff like “A princess,” or “A clown,” or “The next American Idol!” and grown-ups think it’s cute. They’re not as enamored with those answers when you’re twentysomething and still living in their basement.

My husband’s answer to that question when he was a tot was “A horse.”

He was serious.

He would practice his gallop, canter, change of lead and was the toughest buckin’ bronc in the sibling rivalry rodeos. He even managed to recruit a small herd of other whacky kids who trotted around the neighborhood whinnying and wearing holes in their pants.

Oh, to be young and full of delusional hopes and dreams!

Eventually you realize even the most potent surge of pubescent hormones won’t morph you from human to horse, so you have to come up with another plan. That plan is made while sitting in a junior high counselor’s office for a SEOP or CCRP appointment, or whatever new acronym they come up with to mean “Get your freakin’ act together kid because adulthood is coming and, despite government propaganda, you will have work for a living!”

I sat with my teenage son in just such an appointment. The counselor was complimenting him on his excellent grades and evaluation scores. She said he showed great promise for the future.

Then she asked, “What are you thinking about as a career path?”
He answered confidently, “A professional soccer player.”


Now, I love being a soccer Mom and I love my soccer son who can juggle a ball with his feet 2126 times consecutively, but he’s no Ronaldo. He might as well have said, “horse” to the counselor. She and I exchanged knowing looks as she concocted a subtle reality check, “So you want a career in athletics. That’s exciting! You might consider an education in sports medicine or physical therapy so you have something rewarding to do after your professional athletic career . . . or in case things don’t turn out how you hope.”

I don’t blame my kid for being lured by the life of the rich and famous. It’s constantly flaunted in his face in the media. Heck, after reading “Parade” magazine’s recent “What People Earn” annual issue and finding out reality TV stars make a million bucks, I wondered about pitching the idea for “Real Housewives of Cache Valley” to a cable channel.

Country singer Toby Keith earns $65 mil, professional boxer Floyd Mayweather makes $105 mil, and actor Jon Hamm makes $10 mil. I don’t even know who he is. A 31-year-old DJ, electronic music producer and former fish factory worker from the UK banks $66 mil. The governor of Wisconsin makes $144,423 which seems like peanuts compared to JLo’s $37,000,000.

The article surveyed salaries from teacher to talk show host, plastic surgeon to cemetery trustee (she makes $100 annually, btw). The article was both inspiring and disheartening. It’s clear we value entertainment over education. The good news is, I finally found what I want to be when I grow up. A competitive eater makes $33,850 annually, which would be a considerable raise for me.

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