Monday, December 28, 2020

The five best words

The other day, I came downstairs carrying a little backpack I was planning to give to a neighbor's kid, since Ben had grown out of it. It was red, imprinted with the words "fire fighter" and had patches and reflective trim. I dropped it on a chair in the living room as I grabbed my coat. Max walked in, took one look and said "Mine!" 

"Max, aren't you too big for that?" I said.

"No!" he said. He made me put it on him and it fit, so he walked around with it for a bit then headed over to Ben, who was chilling on the sofa. 

"Firefighter?" Max asked. He wanted to know if Ben wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up, just like Max wants to be.

I was having deep thoughts about that backpack. Max's focus has shifted, in the last couple of years, from talking nonstop about becoming a firefighter to talking nonstop about moving to Los Angeles—where he'd like to be a firefighter, but still, his conversations these days mostly consist of his fantasy move. 

I wondered if he was going to start wearing the backpack. Not that we are going much of anywhere, but an 18-year-old wearing a child's backpack would draw attention on walks around town. 

But wasn't I past caring about what people thought of Max? If it made him happy, did it even matter? 

But then, wasn't he 18 and seemingly past the whole dress-up thing? Wasn't it my job to help him fit in as much as possible? 

But then: It makes him happy. He is who is he is. He is old enough to make his own decisions.

Let it be. 

Max stood there, waiting for Ben to answer. 

"Ben, do you want to be a police officer?" I asked.

"No!" he said.

"How about a doctor?" I asked.

"No!" he said.

"A clown?" I teased him.


"OK, what do you want to be when you grow up?" I asked.

And with that, he grinned and he said, "I want to be Max."

Heart. Melt.


  1. Thank you for this wonderful way to start my Tuesday. I love your children have for each other is so heartwarming. And as a child in a soon-to-be 40 year old’s body, I love that Cosplay and dress up culture is now an adult thing too! So dress up away, I say!

  2. I don’t know if this is totally the point (because, yeah: I think Max should do whatever makes him happy, regardless of what other people think), but I doubt anyone would care if Max walked around with that backpack. In this day and age, I think they’d just assume it was an in-joke, or that he was somehow wearing it “ironically” (which, ironically, is not what that word means, but I digress). I think the only people who’d assume he was wearing it because he wants to be a firefighter would be people who already know him and his aspirations, in which case a) I don’t think they’d be particularly shocked, and b) if they were, that’d be on them, not Max (or you). So I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

    And, awww! I love how much Ben idolizes his big brother! 😍


Thanks for sharing!

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