The other day, the family got to talking about space exploration and progress and how no one has ever been to Mars--yet.
"But they will, soon, though," said Si.
"Yes, they probably will--I bet in your lifetime people will land on Mars," said M.
"And I'll get to watch it! On HDTV 5!!!"
Pause. Cough. "Or, you know, you could BE one of the people who lands on Mars," said M, mildly.
"Oh. Yeah. I guess I could," said Si. Pause. "Or I could watch it on TEEVEE!"
My son: not a bold adventurer. Also, I think the prospect of imagining himself as an adult is not that thrilling to him. He'll watch the Mars landing on TV because that's what kids do, and he's a kid. The idea that someday he might be 35 and an astronaut doesn't really fit into his brain.
In contrast, Helen loves to imagine herself and everyone else older--"when he is 13, how old will I be? Nine? I'm going to be nine years old? Will he be in high school? Where will I be? THIRD grade?"
Even she, though, delighted to imagine, dedicated to improving herself at any skill that gets thrown her way ("Once I get over my fears, right, Mom?")--even she can't really picture herself on Mars. I mean, currently she's jump-jump-jump-jump roping up and down the sidelines at a baseball game, wearing a sleeveless dress and shouting "I'm toast! I'm a piece of TOAST!" while everyone around her huddles in blankets and down jackets--but if I were to entice her inside with some markers and give her a writing prompt, "How would I get to Mars?"--even she probably wouldn't come up with a drawing where she spends eight to twelve years in school, loading up on math and technology courses while angling viciously for those key summer internships at Lockheed Martin and NASA and engaging in competitive personal sports activities to prove her moral and physical fitness for the task.
I mean, that's the whole disconnect problem with careers, right? Si is probably right not to imagine himself too far--I suspect he intuits a lot more about the adult world than he lets on, and knows he's better off getting to it when he gets to it.
Or maybe that's what I tell myself since that's what I did, and now look at me. In complete professional fulfillment. Now I write things like this (warning: clicking here will violate the thin veneer of anonymity preserved on this blog--so, er, proceed accordingly).