Like most kids her age, my 5-year-old is as obsessed with her future career path as John Rich is with ruining Love Circle. Make the mistake of asking her what she wants to be when she grows up and you’ll find yourself a captive audience to her mile-long list of future occupations, complete with coordinating hand gestures and facial expressions.
“I’m going to be a policeman, fireman, ambulance driver and a teacher,” she’ll begin. “And a doctor. And I’m going to fly airplanes.” She’ll take a ragged breath and continue as you furtively glance around for the nearest exit. “I’m going to take care of the tigers at the zoo and be a animal tracker and pet detective.” You’ll feel your eyes begin to glaze over as you nod and smile. “I’m going to be a singer, a actress, and I’m going to search for dinosaur bones. And my brother’s going to help me and watch out for danger.”
“That’s great, sweetie… ” you’ll say, hoping to distract her with the fact that Spongebob has appeared on the TV screen behind her.
“I’m not finished,” she’ll say, looking slightly annoyed. “I’m going to be a ballerina and a princess. And a astronaut. And a explorer and a fighter. And I’m going to make video games.”
I haven’t had the heart yet to tell her that we simply don’t have the money to pay for all of the college courses her limitless ambition requires. Besides, her latest occupational goal is making everything else look like…well… child’s play.
“Mommy?” Punky asked me from the backseat the other day. “I think God made me the Chosen One.”
I glanced sharply back in my rearview mirror, where my 5-year-old daughter’s eyes solemnly met mine.
“What does that mean, exactly?” I asked.
She sighed at my dullness. “It means I’m going to save the world,” she explained.
“And how are you going to do that?”
“I don’t know, by fighting or somefing.”
“Okay,” I said, shrugging. “Why not?”
I decided to ignore her new Chosen One status. That strategy had seemed to work well for Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s mom, at least for the first few seasons. But as soon as we arrived at our house, tuning out my little one’s savior complex became impossible.
“There can only be one Chosen One,” she said, squaring off with me over the kitchen counter. “But the Chosen One can have helpers. Only very special people can be helpers, and I’ve decided you’re one of them.”
“Wow,” I said. “Thanks.”
“So what are you going to wear?”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m going to wear a red cape and silver boots,” she said patiently. “So I need to know what you are wearing to help me save the world.”
“I guess I’ll wear a golden cape and gold boots.”
“Great!” Punky rubbed her hands together with smug satisfaction. Within the next few hours, she had recruited a few more helpers: her father, her older sisters and the family dog.
But while being The Chosen One was going pretty smoothly at home, her playmates weren’t so into it. As she climbed into the car after her first day at Art Camp, she shot me a morose look.
“I had fun,” she quickly informed me, “but one fing made me very unhappy.”
“What’s that?” I asked with concern.
“When I told everybody I was the Chosen One, only two people believed me.”
“I can’t imagine why,” I said weakly.
“They said I couldn’t save the world. They said if it were that easy, anybody could do it.”
“Well, who did believe you?” I asked.
“The teacher and another girl,” she said. “I told the girl she could be one of my helpers.”
The next day, Punky insisted on wearing a feather boa and princess dress to camp. She also opted to bring homemade cookies for her classmates. It was all part of her strategic, three-step plan. “Step one, convince them I’m a real princess,” she told me as I strapped her into her booster seat. “Step two, convince them I’m a fighter. Step three,” she paused meaningfully. “Convince them I’m The Chosen One.”
“And if that doesn’t work,” I said, handing her the cookies. “There’s always bribery.”
By the end of the week, Punky had managed to win over a total of four converts. She seemed content with her limited success.
“I just told the ones who didn’t believe me that they’ll have to wait until I grow up, and then go on an adventure with me,” she told me as we headed home. “Then they’ll see how good I fight and they’ll know. I’m The Chosen One.”
I’m still not sure of what to do about Punky’s preoccupation if it continues into the school year, but I will at least use it to my advantage the next time I find myself roped into conversation with a Brag Hag.
“Little Annalise speaks Mandarin and Spanish and she’s quite prolific on her violin,” I can see one of the moms at Punky’s new kindergarten saying after we’ve introduced ourselves and our children.
“Oh, that’s nice,” I’ll say sweetly. “God made Punky The Chosen One.”
I mean, really. How can anyone top that?
Read more of Lindsay’s columns at www.suburbanturmoil.com