Now that he is halfway through his junior year in high school, the countdown for college is on for my oldest. While we remind him on regular basis to study, volunteer and research colleges, he is quick to remind us about his career goals.
Three years ago, Jacob came to me and said he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. "I want to be a comedian or a comedy writer like someone who writes for 'Saturday Night Live' or 'Conan.' That's a job, right?"
I felt relief that he wanted to do something that had a bit more job security than a Power Ranger - his most previous career choice (he was in kindergarten). I also felt pride much in the same way another parent would when a child tells them they got accepted into medical school.
While Jacob told me about details of what made old Johnny Carson monologues and George Carlin stand-up routines comedy gold, it hit me that as much as I want to encourage my kids to follow their dreams, I'd like those dreams to lead to a college degree and good benefits package that includes dental. I also realized this was a career path that his male parental unit may not be enthusiastic about.
Needless to say, when Jacob announced his plans to dad, the reaction wasn't the same as mine. But Jay held his tongue until our son was out of earshot.
"That isn't a good idea. He will be living with us forever."
"No he won't. He'll live with one of our relatives on the East or West Coast forever. It'll be better for him to wait tables in a bigger city where there's a chance he can find work as a comedy writer or at the very least join a group of street performers to earn change for the subway."
"That's not funny. He needs to think long term. Does he really think he could get a job writing for 'SNL' or 'The Tonight Show?'"
This part irritated me. I agree on some level that his dream job may not seem practical or realistic to some. And yes, only a tiny fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction will ever "make it" by People Magazine and New York Times-bestseller standards, but what about those who do?
It happens. Every generation has a Lucy or Seinfeld or Rickels or Rivers or Schumer or Fallon. And with the exception of just a few, every single one has-or had-a team of writers who helped make it happen for them. It just takes work and a little faith from the people who love you most.
After my very heartfelt speech full of phrases that would make Tony Robbins dry heave, our youngest walked in on the conversation.
"What's a comedy writer?"
"It's something people do after they finish college."
Because yes, I've always told my children to shoot for plan A because plan B will always be there. But you still need to have plan B in place.
Comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org