What do you want to be when you grow up? And what does your mother want you to be …

Ben is on work experience this week, at a school. He told me a while ago –clearly feeling embarrassed – that he might consider teaching as a career. 

“But I thought you wanted to play cricket for England”, said a surprised Hattie, who is already planning her Lord’s Groupie outfits. 

‘Well’, replied Ben, nonchalantly, ‘just in case I don’t make the team, I thought I’d better have another plan’.  Wise boy. 

He didn’t want me to tell anybody, though, about his aspirations to become a teacher; I suppose when you’re a boy, and 15, such a career choice – given that your street cred depends on hating all your own teachers – is a bad image move. But I did. Tell people. Because I’m a big mouth. And because I am very proud of him for having any idea at all of what he might like to do when he leaves school; I had no idea at all what I wanted to do – write – until I was nearly 40 (so whilst waiting for inspiration to strike I got married and had 3 kids in the hope people wouldn’t ask me what I did because it’d be quite obvious given the trio of small people, nappy bags and pushchairs attached to me; they did anyway). Ben thinks he may want to teach, I told a friend.  

Oh, she said (as in Oh – you must be so disappointed, not as in, Oh, how simply fabulous, you must be so proud of him – and yourself for producing a son with motivation and direction).  Silly cow. Needless to say she has far loftier ambitions for her own son: he will be a doctor, a lawyer or an Indian Chief when he grows up. Not a chemistry teacher.  How can some parents be so dismissive of the people to whom they entrust their children’s intellectual growth; the people who help shape kids as adults? 

I don’t really know why Ben wants to be a teacher, he hasn’t articulated his reasons to me: he likes people, he likes science, he likes cricket – perhaps he hopes to combine all three in the role of teacher. But sneaking a peek at his work experience diary, I gain a little more insight:  I spent my first PE session on the hard-court – and just so everybody knows, the kids here call me MR. R which I believe suits me – training teams for a football tournament tomorrow. We divided the class into three teams, I was in charge of the green team, and we drew all of our two matches, which is not bad for a “first day on the job”.  Year 2’s were my next victims, and I wasn’t only in control of a team but the whistle too! Yup, that’s right, I was going to ref the match – something that I have not done in my short life but I guess we all have to take risks, so I took charge of the games, and didn’t do that badly, as a result my team won both their matches. Well done Mr. R! 

Well done indeed. Mr R; my son. 

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7 Responses to “What do you want to be when you grow up? And what does your mother want you to be …”

  1. The Good Woman Says:

    He writes pretty well too! (or was that edited?) I agree with you that teachers are undervalued. I studied business which seemed a very practical choice until I ended up following my man around the world. I would have loved to have been a teacher and it would have been far better suited to my current lifestyle.

    Good luck to Mr R, I say!

  2. Roberta Says:

    Well done Mr. R and Well DONE MOM!

    My oldest son has just begun his career as a teacher. He loves it, and I could not be more proud.

  3. Tash Says:

    hiya. have sent you an email. Reading your blog over the last few days has made my heart ache for you – I’m glad the outpost bodes well, and I know (and love) the kind of Africa you are heading to, but I’m so sorry for all the sadness of these days alone. Glad you have the kids and your mum, and the blog to keep you sane… you’re amazing. Don’t think I could do it…

  4. R. Sherman Says:

    I’ve been away and have enjoyed catching up. Your son sounds like a good one and your pride is justified.

    I had no idea at all what I wanted to do – write – until I was nearly 40.

    I’ve often thought that it takes a few decades of actual life experience to become a good writer, as you obviously are. The wait is worth it, methinks.

    Cheers.

  5. Gorilla Bananas Says:

    However successful you are as a writer, your children will be your greatest achievement.

  6. Carolyn Says:

    How lovely. He’ll make a great teacher, no wonder you’re so proud of him.

    Exactly how lonely is the outpost? Can people/chickens/cat hear you scream? Can you run around naked and nobody will know? Can you have wonderful parties that are so loud that neighbours should be complaining but they don’t coz they’re too far away? If so, how far do people have to travel to come to your wonderful parties?

    Are you going to grow vegetables?

  7. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Thank you all. For support, kind words and for making me giggle. (so that I look madder than usual sitting in Hamisi’s internet cafe … alongside masai et al). Mr Sherman you are very kind about my writing; thank you too. Carolyn – Outpost is devoid of other ‘expat’ families; but there is noise; husband tells me he can hear church on one side and muezzin on the other. So I suppose they might hear me scream? And Bishop may object if I run about naked? People will have to travel for a day – on appalling roads – to get to any parties I may host; that’ll sift the wheat from the chaff! Mr R continues to enjoy work at school; fitness tests conducted with his class reveals he had highest fitness level, ‘what do you expect’, he wrote, ‘I am a PE teacher’!

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