What do you want to be when you grow up?


“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I stared up at Weird Lady’s bright blue eyes as her question ran through my mind. I was stumped and mildly annoyed by her. Why did she care what I wanted to be when I grew up and, more importantly, why should I? Whenever I said I wanted to be a fish or a fire truck, adults just laughed at me and I knew they were making fun of me. So I just quit answering that dumb question.

When she realized I wasn’t going to respond, she just pinched my cheek and walked away. I ran over to my mom. Everything was peaceful while my family waited for the UIL awards ceremony to begin. My dad was playing with my baby brothers, my older brother was jittering nervously, discussing how his competition went with my mom, and I just sat there, staring out the window of the cafeteria thinking about Weird Lady.

It was then that everything went haywire.

A lady ran up to the microphone and began to sob. Teary was dripping from her nose and she was hiccupping between words as she spoke shakily into the microphone.

“If there are … any … physicians in the building … please come to … the front of the building … my mother… needs help.”

I stared at her as the cafeteria went silent. I had no idea what was going on. The atmosphere went from proud parents and smiles to darkness and tears.

My father shot up from his seat and sprinted out the door. I looked around, completely lost, but after seeing my dad run as urgently as he did, I got up and ran out the door after him, my mother yelling at me to come back.

I stopped when I reached a mass of people. Teary Lady stood in the crowd sobbing and Weird Lady was comforting her, so I just peeked out from behind them and watched the show.

They were all gathered around my dad and a fallen elderly lady who had had a heart attack, passed out, and hit her head on her way down. My dad was trying to resuscitate her with a steady ratio of 30 chest pumps and two breaths – 30 and 2 … 30 and 2 … 30 and 2. Dad’s expression showed determination and sincerity. He had the situation under control and he knew it.

The ambulance arrived and one of the paramedics spoke a few brief words with my dad while Teary-Lady and her mother were loaded into the back of the vehicle. The paramedic shook my dad’s hand and got into the ambulance. My dad turned around to the crowd and an applause began.

I walked up to Weird Lady, looked at her bright blue eyes and said, “A doctor.”