At that stage, when life is still a canvas free from lines, smudges and patches, it is customary to hear from adults the following question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Family, teachers and anyone who does not know how to start a conversation with a minor raise that question, which normally comes with some attached suggestions such as you could be a doctor like Pedro your grandfather or a teacher like aunt Ana. They have done very well for themselves. If you do not want to study, you could help in the family business or go to work to another country.
I remember that, away from the presence of the older people, what do you want to be when you grow up? became one of the many games that girls used to play in my neighborhood.
Thus, the teachers of the future emerged from those girls whose true motivation was to take revenge for the scolding they got from their current teachers. The most outgoing girls wanted to be on show business so they could wear bright colors, glitter and feathers every day and not only on holidays when dressing up was allowed.
We never lacked the girl who dreamed of becoming a veterinarian to be surrounded by the dogs and cats that she could not keep at home or the girl that aspired to become a doctor to cure her mom.
Among girls of course what do you want to be when you grow up? covered topics on the families we expected to build someday. So the game included questions about the age at which we will get married, how many children we will have and the profession of our husband to be. To choose the place to spend our future honeymoon was no small matter and what could be better than touring Paris for the first time as a newly married woman, as one girl said.
Celia was one of my dearest friends from childhood, who used to live in the house next to ours. She was the only girl in my neighborhood who refused to play this game.
One day, when Celia finally accepted to participate in: What do you want to be when you grow up? her answer was plain and simple: “Anything but an old maid” which brought the game to an abrupt halt. Hence we never knew if Celia wanted to be a lawyer or a writer neither did we learn whether she would rather wear a silver or gold wedding band. After Celia´s overwhelming answer no girl from my neighborhood ever wanted to wonder: What do you want to be when you grow up?