“How was your day?” I asked after picking her up from softball practice.

“It was good.”

“Just good?” I asked. “Nothing new and exciting?”

“Oh, we took an ACT test today. That was really fun.” she said.

“Wait, isn’t that like a college type test? How did I not know about this?”

“Mommy did.” she said. “And it’s a test to see where you might best fit in at the High School level.”

Oh, now I knew why I didn’t know about it. Because had I known I would have gone into a rant about the system that tries to shove children headfirst into the meat grinder. My wife’s no dummy.

“It took all day, so at least I don’t have any homework.” she said. “But you want to hear something?”

“Sure.” I said, still stewing about the meat grinder.

“The test kept asking about our future. Like, ‘What do you want to major in in college?’ and stuff like that. Don’t they know we’re 13? I don’t want to think about that stuff yet. Maybe when I’m a senior in High School, sure.”

That’s my girl. Recognize and move around the traps.

She continued, “It had one specific question about what we’d like to be when we grow up. And they had everything you could think of listed there: ‘fixing houses,’ ‘working on computers,’ ‘being a public speaker’ everything. A huge list of jobs. But you know what they didn’t have?”

“Writer.” I said.

“No, they had some kind of public writer or something like that. No, what they didn’t have was ‘pro athlete.’” she said in complete shock, my golden-haired child with the freakish hand-eye coordination and the competitive fire of an olympic boxer. “They had ‘athletic instructor’ but no ‘pro athlete.’ I mean, I’d like to teach one day, but first things first.”

That’s the way to kill a dream, ACT test. Kudos. Let’s get another kid into the grinder, boys. We’re falling behind. 

“Well, you’ll just have to break the mold. Show them a thing or two.” I said. “So what did you end up selecting?”

“Well, everything sounded so boring. I ended up choosing ‘marine biologist’ so I can work with animals”

That’s my girl. Keep dreaming.

Sammy and the Oak Tree
The Art of the Elevator Pitch

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.

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