“When I grow up, I want to be a scientist, mummy,” E informs me one morning recently as we walk to school. I say walk – he actually scoots, meaning that for the majority of time he is speeding ahead, making me mentally calculate how many imperceptible obstacles lie between him and his arrival at school with all limbs attached: a raised drain, a cracked paving stone, other pedestrians, all of which he is generally utterly unaware. I inadvertently run Casualty-like scenarios through my head: shots of speeding scooter wheels cutting to alarming images of a large twig lying across his path. It is all way too much suspense for a morning, I can tell you.
If he is not in front, then he is scooting beside me, which means I am in mortal danger of losing a toe or at the very least having my ankle fractured as he veers ever closer to me. I have banned him from scooting behind me, ever since the heel-ramming incident, involving much chewing of fist as I limped along, boot heel flapping like a grounded fish, desperately trying not to shout out the most heinous swear word that has ever made an unscheduled appearance in my throat.
“A scientist?” I reply. “That’s a good thing to be.” Well done me for that sparkling and informed answer. I do ponder about asking him to elaborate, but I doubt he has given it any further thought, seeing as he probably saw a scientist in a book and decided anything that involved blowing stuff up or chucking green slime in people’s faces was most definitely the career for him. Either that, or he just fancies wearing a white coat.
“Do you know what I am going to invent?” he asks.
“A lot of pipes with windows and they go up and down and change the level of the water at different times and days.”
Right. I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about.
Let’s start by trying to narrow down the body of water we are dealing with here. “Is this for the sea, a lake or the bath?”
He rolls his eyes in a ‘for God’s sake, are you stupid or something?’ kind of way that I fear I will be seeing much more of as his gets older. “The sea. And it controls how hot or cold it is and it can take cold out.”
Okay. I am still none the wiser, but it sounds bloody marvellous. Now, I am no fan of swimming in the sea, because 1. It is too deep and 2. It is too cold. This invention sounds like the answer to my prayers, so I would definitely chuck a tenner in if it turned up on Kickstarter.
“You know what else I would invent?” he asks. Christ, there’s more.
At this point, he spots a friend across the road. “Oh, there’s Henry. I have to stop thinking now.”
A week later, and we are eating lunch.
“I don’t want to be a scientist any more,” he informs me.
“No. I am going to be a street dancer.”
And that, right there, is what happens when you take careers advice from CBBC.