Running off with the circus


My parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. It made me think the world was a gigantic circus where I might crawl right out of the peanut gallery and onto the high-wire. Ta-da.

Well, it is. Kind of.

This morning I watched The Perfect Grandson will his left fist into his mouth. It took a long time and many unsuccessful attempts, but he stared down that fist until he had it right where he wanted it. Determination.

Very soon I’ll tell him he can be anything he wants to be when he grows up. I won’t mean it, though. I’ll let my daughter work out the finer points on this when he’s older, but for now my mind is clear: there are some things he simply cannot become.

During his last months in utero and ever since, my daughter and I have made a running list. We add to it as the need arises, or during particularly worrisome Discovery Channel documentaries. Levi can never be…

1. a prisoner. Of any kind.

2. a Bering Sea crab fisherman.

3. a Pro-rodeo bullrider.

4. an ice climber.

5. a firefighter in Southern California.

6. in any branch of the military stationed in an oil-producing country.

7. a bum.

8. a drug addict.

9. a Republican.
I have no doubt this list will grow. He’s only four months old. There’s time. If you have any more to add to the list, let me know.

I understand that telling him he can be anything he wants when he’s grown has more to with the limitless possibilities than with dangerous choices. Fine. I’m perfectly aware that someday The Perfect Grandson will be a hairy-legged, back-talking, reckless-driving, hormone-driven teenager. Those things happen.

I just don’t want him to run with scary boys or vote Republican.

9 thoughts on “Running off with the circus

  1. Damn those drug-addict Republicans. I’m with you there.I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it if my hypothetical child became a Southern Baptist or a Medieval lit scholar….

  2. I knew I forgot one! I’ll have to add “televangilist” to the list.Emily wanted me to add “surly teenaged poet” to the list, but I think that’s a rite of passage.

  3. i totally wrote a poem (with enjambments and everything!) on your experiment site in response to the x-ray-gun-in-the-mouth picture, and i don’t see it there today. did the internet eat it up? god, i hope not, because it might have been a brilliant poem.

  4. i didn’t save it, but i rewrote it, and i think it’s better, except for the ending. i did the other prompt, too. i appreciate this site, since i’m in a poetry writing class and need to generate content.are we just posting or are we giving feedback, too?

  5. My 23 year old perfect son thankfully is none of the things you don't want for your perfect grandson. I think since you and your daughter agree on what he should/can never become, then you probably have a good chance of seeing him stay perfect. Agreeing with a daughter is a lot tougher than agreeing with a son (in my experience).

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