I Hope You Get What I Got
So, our kids love one-on-one time at Barnes & Noble. Especially when it starts getting cold out. It is the great little getaway. Barnes & Noble is one of my favorite hangouts, especially when we lived in Evansville. You never know what type of Barnes & Noble you are gonna get where you live. Each one’s a little differently and we got so lucky in Evansville that they had a whole second level upstairs with this little looks and crannies and these comfortable chairs.
Before we had kids. I would just hideaway and spent hours just reading books. It was my secret hiding spot. I am not sure if they’re all doing this but in our local Barnes & Noble here in Pittsburgh, they keep taking away all the comfortable chairs. Maybe it’s because of people like me who just camp out there and just get a coffee or pretzel and read a book. Maybe they caught on to that. They start replacing the comfortable chairs with more uncomfortable wooden chairs so I spend less time there than I used to. But the kids love going there and I love that they want to be around books even though they go back to the toy section more often than they go to the books right now. We often spent a couple hours there just roaming around and I love bookstores, I always have whether it is a small mom-and-pop store even the Barnes & Noble. I’m just a book fan.
Last winter, when we were there, the three of us, I had an interesting encounter with a gentleman there. He is a pleasant enough guy but it taught me a lesson. Nolan and Dylan were playing by the Legos and they were checking how much money they had. They wanted to get something for themselves. Like any kid who had too much hot chocolate, Dylan had to go to the bathroom. There is a gentleman behind me walking and he must’ve been in the 70s and 80s, he saw Dylan come running and Nolan getting a little excited. I smiled and he said something to the effect of I understand what you’re going through, I got two boys myself.
I always love those conversations and I look forward to it because I usually get a nugget of something that I can learn about being a better dad. There is a ton of wisdom from people who’ve already raised kids especially for us who have to raise boys. He said something interesting to me. He said I hope you get what I got and I was excited about this because I was really curious about where he is going to go with it. We were outside the bathroom and waiting for the kids come out. And I said tell me what you mean. I don’t think he heard me the first times and he repeatedly said I hope you get what I got. And he got really probably and he said he had a nuclear engineer and a doctor. I was kind of taken aback. I was not expecting that answer. I said good for you and congratulations. And he emphasizes how important it was for them to have those jobs. I look at him and waited and thought how I should reply to him. I said, I’m not worried about that. I just want them to do work that they love.
He looked at me and I wasn’t sure if I should response. He smiled and said, you know one of my boys had a real passion for history and one of his teachers said to him do history as a hobby but be a doctor and he did the money sign with his fingers. I smiled and I didn’t say anything else. That is pretty much the end of it and Dylan came out of the bathroom and Nolan followed.
We went and played around Barnes & Noble for the rest of the time. I kept thinking about that and I kept thinking about our culture and the mindset. There’s nothing wrong with what he is talking about. He is very commendable. A nuclear engineer and a doctor. In this society, that’s about as high as you can get right? By societal standards but it’s not something that I wish for my kids and I don’t care about that. If that’s something that they want to do and they get there, I’ll be so proud of them. I’ll be the biggest cheerleader. But I do get the feeling that there’s an expectation or a push towards that in a certain household, like essentially that is what success is. And the idea of yeah do history for a hobby but be a doctor for the money and it is interesting because that’s what we all strive in the society’s right? to be a doctor. But it’s interesting that the average doctor’s lifespan is 58 years old because of the stress that comes with the job and the hours and the way insurance is now and the regulations. Honestly, it’s not something that I am not smart enough to go towards. And it’s not something that any of our kids have shown any interest in either of those professions.
So, I think for this gentleman, if our kids change course and became doctors and nuclear engineers, that’s success. And doing what they want as a hobby which will eventually fade out because if you don’t do it, it just dies out. That really wouldn’t matter because you got that job. I think after everything I’ve gone through, I was surprised to hear that but I really shouldn’t be because I think that what’s schools and our culture teaches and tells us. Go be a doctor. Go be a lawyer. Go be an engineer and for the, to say it that way, which was I hope you get this, which makes it seem that if they don’t get that, they’re not successful. You know I was proud of what I said. I chose not to go further in the conversation because I don’t think he would’ve gotten it. But I don’t care if my kids become a doctor or nuclear engineer. I don’t care about that. I care that they do work that they love to do that helps other people and that energizes them and that it fulfills their purpose. And that really doesn’t have anything to do with what the job is, it has to do with how they want to do it and what they want to do. And I thought it was just a really interesting conversation and I love the fact that even just standing in line going to the bathroom you could talk to somebody and have a brief conversation and different point of views but we can learn so much from it.
Those are the conversation that really made you think I mean was I wrong? Is he right? Am I right? Is it a combination of both? Or we’re both right in our own ways because he’s right in his life and that’s perfect for him but I imagine, actually I know that we’re not going to push our kids into a certain profession because that’s where the money is. And time will tell if we are doing this right. I think we’re on the right track but I’m curious. I kind of wonder what would it have been like if we grabbed a cup of coffee and chat about what success is. Is it about money? Is it about time? Does the idea of time freedom have any value to him? Does the idea of controlling your own destiny, owning your business, owning your schedule, is that something that this guy would find valuable? Because to me that is tremendously more valuable than more money. So, I just personally want to have more of those conversations not to be right and not to get my point across, just because I love to learn. I love to learn what people are thinking and I do love to bring a different point of view that they might not have heard and I love to hear other points of view that I haven’t heard.
So, I challenge you to have this conversation with people that don’t think just the way that you do. Cause if you put yourself in a bubble whether career wise or politically or faith-based, you’ll be around people that only think like you but you’re not going to challenge to not only explain what you’re doing but to understand why other people are doing what they do. So, it is just something to think about but for you I don’t hope you get what I got, I hope you get what you want. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.