Doctor, Lawyer, Trash Man?

 This morning I pinched my finger folding up my son’s stroller, and I yelped “Oooww!”  A concerned look immediately crossed my 2.5-year-old son’s face and he took my hand into his.  

 “Are you okay?”  he asked.  “I can make it feel better.”  

He examined my purpling finger and kissed it and then rubbed it with his fingers.  It definitely made me forget all about my injured finger, as I adored his expression of compassion and care. 

“He’s going to be a doctor!” my partner exclaimed from across the room. 

We take turns calling out what profession we think my son will have as he demonstrates to us daily and moment by moment what temperament, interests and characteristics are part of his evolving self. 

Today, he is the doctor.  Yesterday he was the lawyer, negotiating with Jack, our neighbors’ son, trading his toy car for the ball.  Another time he was the manager, telling his friends Ruby and Stella the best way to wash their buggies with the hose. 


Stephen negotiating amidst the chaos of an impromtu block playdate

The of course, there is his fascination with garbage trucks.  In fact, we are counting the days to the LA Sanitation Department Open House (June 26), when he will get to join thousands of kids in sitting in the trash truck, honking the horn and even operating the lift and crusher. My partner jokes we will be able to save lots on college if he chooses to become a trash man. 

Stephen at the controls at the LA Sanitation Department Open House 2009

We find ourselves wondering what he will be, and what he will be like as he gets older.  My partner is a school teacher, and as she has observed children growing up from kindergarten to 5th grade and sees how little basic traits about them change, she says he can already tell that our little Stephen will be a leader, but she cautions that his enthusiasm for socializing may pose challenges getting him to focus on school work.  

I try to resist the temptation to think about his future in this respect and others.  Often I look at his slender face and think I can see what he will look like as an older boy, a teenager and even as a man.  I see a handsome groom at his wedding, and then I stop.  He is two years old!  Just wait and see! 

At times I have wanted to keep him a baby — a newborn, a toddler, a 29-pound boy that I can effortlessly hoist up on my hip and carry around wherever I go.  Then I feel the amazement in the moment when I hear him say something grown up, using his language and thinking skills, like, “I’m pouring my juice on the sidewalk to feed the bugs.” 

I can’t keep him from growing older, and I can’t rush him into growing up, so I must just stay in the moment and love each and every moment for the milestone it is, even when he is pouring his juice on the sidewalk.

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