When I was a little kid, I really had my life together. I had the start of a rather impressive stuffed animal collection, Hot Wheels that probably made all the cootie-ridden boys jealous, and I knew exactly what my life was going to be like when I “grew up.” I knew then that by my 20s, I’d be filthy rich, live in a castle, and be married with four kids. …I definitely wish some aspects of my life had followed my childhood timeline. Let’s break this down one delusional expectation at a time.

Filthy Rich
I think if we adjusted my childhood financial expectations for inflation and the changing value of the dollar, according to my predictions I should have a net worth of roughly $2.3 million. …Instead, I’m lucky to have $2.30 in my wallet. When you’re a kid, you always assume you’re going to be rich. Forget all those statistics that demonstrate the broadening of the middle class–when you’re young you just know you’re going to be rolling in dough. In my imagination, grown up Katie was eating off of gold plates and playing croquet in the backyard. In reality, grown up me most often eats out of microwave dinner trays and probably couldn’t even afford a croquet mallet.

Chateau on a Hill

Okay, maybe The Hunchback of Notre Dame is part of the reason why I want the gargoyles.

In my youth, when I’d bust out my Crayolas and color my dream house, I’d always be constructing some lavish estate on about an acre of land with an eight car garage, a horse stable, and a moat. I can even remember one picture where I tried my hand at drawing gargoyles on the roof of my fantasy house. Let’s try to ignore the fact that child me was drawing the floor plan for a fortified house in the Middle Ages and ask this question instead: how did I think I could pay for all this? One gargoyle alone probably costs a couple thousand dollars! And a moat? Imagine the amount of electricity it takes to operate a drawbridge. I wouldn’t be able to afford that electric bill! At this point in my life, the only affordable housing options available to me, other than living at home, are the backseat of my car or a cardboard box.

When I was young I thought growing up worked a lot like the board game Life. I just cruise around in my car and somewhere along the way I pick up a husband. I have no idea why, when I was a kid, I was under the impression that the second you become an adult, you’re also married. When you’re a little girl dreaming of your future, you completely overlook the whole dating process and the concept of having a boyfriend. Oh no, us women grow up wanting that ring right from the start.

With Children.
In addition to wedded bliss, I imagined my grown up self already having a whole damn litter of kids around this age. Seriously, four kids? I don’t even know where I’d keep one kid, let alone four of ’em. Maybe I could stow them in that eight car garage I’d envisioned. Even though I’m supposedly an adult (this has yet to be confirmed), I simply can’t financially support an entire munchkin brigade right now.

Just me, my husband, and one of my children laying outside the car. …Seems about right.

Don’t get me wrong, I live for the day when I can spawn a couple of mini-mes, but spoiled kid-Katie vastly underestimated the cost of childcare. I’d have to pawn off my makeup or shoe collection to pay for diapers. Now, I’m totally receptive to making sacrifices for my offspring someday… Just not those sacrifices.

Looking at my current (painfully short) list of life accomplishments, I think I may have let my foolish childhood self down a little. But hey, at least I graduated college with honors! (Though I can’t find a job.) I have a nice car! I have friends/boyfriend/family and all that other good stuff, too. And… I’ve managed to not die! I think that should count for something. Be patient, inner kid-Katie, I’m working on getting your gargoyles.

What childhood expectations have you miserably failed to live up to?

21 thoughts on “Childhood Expectations

  1. When I was 3 or 4, everyone told my parents I’d grow up to be a hoodlum or incarcerated.

    They were probably right — I’m just lucky.

  2. That picture with the pink peg lying outside of the car made me laugh. Out loud. I think that we all assumed we were gonna be rich. When I was little, I led a very humble existence in a less than decadent part of the city. But NO, I knew that I was going to be rich, married, and possibly a famous celebrity. Oh, and living in a mansion in LA and NYC. As a kid, I’ve never been to either of those cities, much less, knew where they were located. But, I knew that I was gonna live there.

  3. “Managed not to die.” The problem with that one as an accomplishment is that you’ll never be able to put it on a gravestone, will you?

    Also, little kids don’t know much, so I wouldn’t worry about not living up to your younger self’s ambitions. The ones you’re setting now though, those are worth going for.

    And who wants to live in a mansion anyway? Do you know how long those things take to clean? (I don’t, but considering I barely manage with my 2-bedroom apartment, I’m going to guess too long.)

    1. Ha! Nope, but it works for now! Also, I figure if I have the mansion I also have a maid to clean it. And a personal chef. And a live-in hair stylist.

  4. I wouldn’t say I failed miserably at my childhood expectations…well, not all of them. Some of them changed due to a priority shift. For example, I’d always wanted to be a neurosurgeon…till I took biology and got bored. Because I was also good at thinking on my feet and arguing, I decided I really wanted to be a lawyer…preferably a criminal one…for the prosecution (and yes, I knew that 70% of lawyering is research and not LA Law). Oddly enough…the one constant through all that was my passion for writing…which I completely dicounted as a pipe dream. Now I’m revisiting it.

    I thought I’d be married with children. That didn’t happen till my 30’s…mostly because I kept saying to myself…I don’t feel old enough! Now I’m finally married…which supposedly means I’ve settled down. We shall see if the kids thing follows. I hope so…but I’ll be happy with whatever God and life throws at me.

    I, too, thought I’d be rich. Losing my job last 4th of July sure did not help with that dream…but I’m not uncomfortable, either…and hubby is letting me stay home and chase my dream. 🙂 (OK, so we both know “letting” is a strong word…more like we talked and he’s okay with me following my heart and my dreams, though we both know I could easily get a job.)

    Geez! Now I feel like a total failure! Thanks. This exercise left me feeling bloody! Just kidding. 🙂 Reality is…as time goes by, dreams change and so do our expectations.

    1. My changing career focus has been a lot like yours! I started out wanting to be a veterinarian, but I hated chemistry. During my first year of college I realized after freshman year I wouldn’t need anymore English classes, and I was devastated. I changed my major to English with the intention of becoming a lawyer, but I failed the LSAT (my own fault for not preparing enough). In the end, I just realized that’s not really something that would have made me happy anyway. So here we are.

      The trouble finding a job is the failure that’s really weighing on me. The gargoyles and houseful of kids can wait.

  5. Oh man. When I was in the fourth grade my teacher had us write a paper and draw a picture depicting out “dream bedroom”. Dude, I had teal walls with purple carpet. There was a library, a stuffed animal kingdom, mood lighting in various colors, bay windows all over the place, a TREE growing in the middle of it, and a jacuzzi with a mini waterfall (I managed to spell that correctly at 10 years old somehow). I mean, the bedroom alone was freaking epic. I imagine if I had to create the rest of my house it would have been out of control with gargoyles, moats, a rainforest, and all that. Later in life I did manage to pull off the teal bedroom walls. And my parents have a hot tub… The closest thing to a library I have is the 200+ novels lining the walls of my loft. I, too, thought I’d be rich and married. But somehow, especially now, I’ve never imagined myself with children…I’ve just never like kids. Even when I was one.

    1. Forget all that other stuff, the most luxurious aspect of that bedroom are those bay windows and the library! I always tell people I don’t like kids, but that I’d like my own. The real problem I think is that I see a bunch of people procreating that really shouldn’t be, and it’s like I can just predict the next generation of jerks and assholes being groomed right before my eyes.

      1. Exactly right about the next generation. And then you have to think about your own kids growing up with that group of assholes and trying to explain to them that just because those kids are a bunch of bratty and entitled little whelps doesn’t mean that it’s okay. And, frankly, that sounds exhausting 🙂

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