Ding, dong, the firefighter dream is dead. Just. Like That. It happened fast. Like snap-your-fingers fast. For the better part of a year-and-half (or close to half of K-Man’s life), the kid has been a firefighter. For the better part of a year-and-a-half, K-Man has only worn a red pocket t-shirt, or one of his Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department t-shirts (he now has three). For the better part of a year-and-a-half, he has worn fire boots (rain boots) every day – regardless of the weather. And, he’s also worn his fire jacket and for at least some part of each day, one of his fire helmets (he probably has 20 to pick from). And, just like that – he’s no longer a firefighter.
Now…He’s a SCUBA diver.
I’ve written about chasing dreams. Just this last week, I spoke to a classroom full of college students and talked about the idea that if you do what you love…you’ll never work a day in your life. When, K-Man was born, one of the promises that I made to myself (and to him, but he had no idea what I was talking about and, if I recall, he actually threw up on me right after I told him) was that I would always support and nurture is goals and dreams.
So, when he was a firefighter – I was right there with him. We went to firehouses. We trailed fire trucks. I was a human siren. Though it could sometimes be a bit of a pain in the proverbial ass, we went to park after park after park sliding down poles for hours and hours. Firefighter books were read at night. We even endured hours upon hours upon hours of “Fireman Sam,” which must be one of the worst television shows ever produced. But, K-Man was a firefighter and firefighters watched “Fireman Sam.” You got it, buddy.
And now it’s over. No more fire gear. No more “Fireman Sam.” It’s amazing. It’s not that I really thought he would become a firefighter – though he may still come back to it, I suppose – but his obsession with all things fire, firefighters, fire trucks and even firedogs was incredible. His dedication to the profession was rooted in a passion that I’m not sure I’ve ever even had for anything. So, there was this romantic notion that he would just grow up and become a firefighter. Part of me kind of liked the thought of telling that story, “Oh yeah…He was hardcore when he was a little kid. There was never a doubt.”
Now, though, the oxygen tank of a firefighter has become a SCUBA tank. His firefighter gear, replaced by a black adidas sweat suit that doubles as his wetsuit. His fire mask replaced by a dive mask and snorkel. And his boots…flippers. (Though, he understands that it’s kind of tough to wear his flippers to school, so he’s actually wearing tennis shoes.) He’s even worn three different shirts in the last week. The kid hasn’t worn three different shirts in the last year. It’s just amazing.
And, I couldn’t be happier to help him as he “swims” down this new road. We’ll go to aquariums as much as possible to see the “tank girl.” We’ll watch Jacque Cousteau videos on DVD. We’ll read books about diving, divers and fish. That’s his dream. (K-Man will be tremendously disappointed, however, in my ability to help him with any marine biology homework should that time come. Sorry kid.)
I know that kids do this. They dream of becoming paleontologists, astronauts, baseball players, etc. I know K-Man is not the first kid to want to be one thing and then decide to do something else. But, this shocking switch (our friends are probably more surprised that we were) is as much about me as it is about K-Man. It’s an opportunity for me to uphold those promises that I made during 3:00 AM feedings.
SCUBA diver it is, little man. Dive right in.