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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

what do Today is Toddler's last day of her first year of Preschool. And this is very hard to believe because it feels like she started school yesterday. I know that is a cliched mommy thing to say, but 'tis true. And the speed at which time has passed this year amazes me and alarms me. Anyway, she is now the proud owner of her very first yearbook. It is bright red with a big heart on the front and Toddler loves flipping through it, identifying her teachers and friends. I used to love doing this very thing.

Some of the first pages are dedicated to the oldest kids, the ones who are graduating and moving onto Kindergarten. There is a preciously-posed-and-precocious picture of each graduate and under it, each kid answers that age old question that we all fielded endlessly when we were small.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

And here are some of my favorite replies from the Preschool class of 2010:

A mom, a ballerina, a teacher and a doctor.

A New York Rangers hockey player.

Creator of computer games or owner of a pizza store.

An actress or a cab driver.

A spy!

Dirt bike racer or race car driver. Whatever!

A veterinarian, a cowgirl, an opera singer, a rock star, a mom, a DJ, a builder and a gymnast.

A signer, a designer, and a sassy dancer.

A mommy. A pirate.

A dad or a knight or a guy that goes into outer space.

These are just some of the answers. Don't they make you smile? Don't they bring you back to your youth, to an unsullied and open time when no hope or dream was too silly or far-fetched?

On Wednesday, I conducted a little Twitter poll. I asked the same question the kids answered. This time to a bunch of tech-savvy adults.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

And here are some of the replies I got:

More than anything, a writer.

I wanna be happy.

Happy & confident, but mostly confident.

I want to be confident when I grow up.

Secure. Confident. At peace (and therefore happy) with myself (and therefore the world). Oh! And don't forget loved. Definitely want to be loved when I grow up.

Someone that can fry an egg, dance a gig, and write a story all before bedtime.

At peace with who and what I am.

The adult answers are a bit different, huh? What happens to us between say five and fifty to change things so? Why, once upon a time, did we dream of being pirates and ballerinas and spies, and now we all crave more subtle things, things we might have once assumed would be givens: happiness, love, peace? What strikes me most is the repetition of one word: Confidence. Why are so many of us craving confidence? What is it about this culture and this world of ours that leaves so many of us uncertain and insecure?

I don't know.

But I do know a couple of things. I know that I am a member of this insecure species. I too covet confidence. I leave to head to New Haven today for my tenth reunion (no, there will be no books in hotel rooms) and I am feeling anxious and wish that I had that goofy preschool I want to be an astronaut or cab driver confidence to fuel me. But, alas, things are different. I am ten years older than that blonde chick in the cap and the gown, but I'm not all grown up. Not yet. I do not have it all together. Like so many of you in the Twittersphere and beyond, my confidence flickers furiously as I travel through my days. And this is okay. Because this is life. This is adulthood.

But sometimes, I do long for latter day. For a time when I was shrouded in oblivion and full of foolish and fabulous and ever-evolving visions of my future. For a time when it was okay to dream big fat crazy dreams. And thankfully when I get nostalgic for the past like this, there is a simple and sweet remedy. I look into the blue eyes of two silly little girls. Girls who have it all ahead of them.

Girls who can be anything they want to be.

Anything.

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  • Has this year school year flown for you too?
  • Did you love getting your school yearbook at the end of the year?
  • Were you nervous at all for your college reunion(s)?
  • Why do you think our answers to this heralded question change as we age?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?

"Every now and then, a novel like Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes finds its way into my life, and it’s moments when I’m reading a book like this — where I feel like my own face is reflected back at me — that I experience what I can only call literary magic..." (Click to read the rest of this amazing review over at Write Meg (5 out of 5 stars, baby!!)

I am thrilled that She Posts just featured my story -- about my book deal and blogging. Check it out here.

I had a lot of fun answering fellow lawyer/mom/blogger Kathryn's thoughtful questions on her site Marbury vs. Madison Avenue. Click over to read!

**Check out this wonderful interview with the incomparable Allison Winn Scotch over at Life in Pencil. Allison just published her third novel The One That I Want this week and it just happens to be the book I have packed to go with me to New Haven this weekend. I have already gulped down the first chapter and it was great. Not that I am at all surprised!**

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