It has not escaped me for the past couple of years that Young J thinks about the future. A lot.
It started pretty innocuously, as a reaction to my refusal to take him to see the new movie version of The Lorax, which was being advertised on the side of buses and subways. I read a review of it which made it sound like the worst piece of crap ever, and since I’m pretty media-averse when it comes to my kids (or at least was, back then, when it was so much easier to shield them), it didn’t seem like a big deal. I let Young J watch the original Lorax film adaptation on YouTube. It was just as depressing as I remembered it to be.
Young J wasn’t happy though. I remember him standing in front of the full-length mirror in my bedroom as he informed me that he was going to “grow up, and get a job that will make me some money, and then I will use some of that money for a house and some of it I will use to go to the movie theater and see The Lorax.”
Those of you familiar with kids with special needs (or child development in general) know that a big focus is the importance of their developing executive functioning skills, which is what enables us to plan, organize, set goals for ourselves, solve problems, and regulate our emotions, among other things.
So, while I felt badly that Young J really took it hard that I didn’t take him to see the movie, I was actually delighted to hear him say something like that. It showed an awareness of the steps needed to achieve a future goal – precisely the stuff of which executive functioning skills are made.
Young J has ADHD, so it wasn’t ever a given that he would develop these skills on his own. And some of these skills – like organization – still elude him. But he has a great and abiding love of the future.
At age eight he has already decided the following:
– He will drive the Staten Island Ferry when he grows up.
– He will live in a house on Staten Island, with some land. And probably also a drum kit.
– He will have a dog.
– He wants to get married, to a woman.
He was talking about these things this morning, and I decided to ask him why he focuses so much on the future (yesterday he drew some detailed sketches of various electronic devices which he’ll have when he grows up – a “MiniPad,” a “Sports Kindle,” and some other things). I told him, by way of contrast, that when I was eight years old, I wasn’t really thinking about the future at all.
This was my diary at age eight:
I just flipped through it to see if I had any forecasts of what I’d be doing as an adult when I was eight. I didn’t actually find any entries from when I was that age at all. I’ve used this one-year diary sporadically over a period of many, many years, writing the year at the top of the page. I did find this entry about goals…
… which I wrote when I was 26.
Young J got the big laugh line today, because what he said in response to hearing about my lack of a future plan at age eight was:
“And now here you are! A librarian who’s trying to find a job!”
Sad trombone! (In his defense, he was being neither malicious nor sarcastic. Just truthful. Ow.)
And you? What did eight year old you make of the future? Or did it take you until 26 to decide?