I was 5, and astronaut was the first “thing” I wanted to be when I grew up.
(According to something in my pre-school time capsule, when I was 3-4, I wanted to be “a nurse and a mommy.” I think I just didn’t know any other occupations at that time.)
An astronaut visited my kindergarten class, and he brought a “space suit” and helmet and each of us got to pose for a photo wearing the suit and holding the helmet by our side, like the real astronauts do/did in their official NASA photos. And I guess I just thought that was so cool and they got to go into outer space and I wanted to do that!
So began my intense interest in the Solar System, stars, galaxies, and space travel. I had this toy planetarium thing, a small projector with different slides that showed the night sky from different hemispheres and different seasons so you could see them on the ceiling or wall. I had the glow-in-the-dark stars all over my bedroom. For one birthday, my friends and I went to the science museum for a planetarium show. Apollo 13 is still one of my favorite movies. I went to freakin’ Space Camp when I was 11 (and it was AWESOME).
(I have no idea where those pictures are, or they’d be all over this post.)
So I really have no idea why, in the second grade, when we were prompted to “imagine where we’d be in 20 years” (which is, um, now?) and write about it, I wrote about being married, checking on my infant daughter (hah!) in her crib, and then going to work on my next novel. At the time, I imagined myself writing the kids’ novels I had just started reading (The Boxcar Children and Babysitter’s Little Sister or whatever it was called — the spinoff from the Babysitter’s Club books about Kristy’s step-sister Karen. Also the Sweet Valley spin-off about the twins when they were in 2nd or 3rd grade or so) because that was all I really knew about literature.
It’s interesting now, when I’m reading so much about how girls are getting conditioned away from liking math and science at young ages. Did that happen to me? I don’t really think so; my parents always wanted me to do whatever would make me happy and definitely encouraged my astronaut dreams (see toy planetarium, birthday, and putting up with those stupid glow-in-the-dark stars all over my walls). My interest in outer space didn’t really decrease, just my desire to go there. I went to a school that actually had an awesome science program and I can’t for the life of me remember ever being told “girls can’t do science” or anything along those lines. If anything, at that age, I would’ve said “oh yeah? WATCH ME” because I relished being a tomboy and didn’t *want* to be perceived as “girly” in any way.
But at any rate, after just two or three years, I had apparently given up on my dreams of going to the moon or the space station. It wasn’t until 4th grade that I decided to nurse an active hatred of math, and figured science was mostly math and I was the creative right-brained type, dammit, I was an artsy creative writer, screw all that logic and reason.
Yeah, I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little, but then I realized how much math and science they had to know, I would joke.
to be continued…