A stylist yesterday, a doctor the day before that, a house builder today…until the earthquake hits

For the longest time, Fiona wanted to be a stylist when she grew up. I think it started about a year ago: she suggested that I pair some green earrings with my dress, I said “Great choice, Fiona, you should be a stylist!” and she decided right then and there that she was going to be a stylist when she grew up (it wasn’t until a few weeks later that she asked me what a stylist was). Much talk of dresses and shoes and awards shows later, she started branching out. At this point, she changes what she wants to be daily, sometimes hourly. It makes me happy and a little teary to see her so excited about all the possibilities before her.

Yesterday morning Fiona and I were finishing up breakfast, and she asked me what I wanted her to build. A house, I said. “OK. But I need Daddy’s tools.” (We’ll just gloss over the fact that most of them are mine, I guess that’s for another post.) Once I disabused her of the notion that she could use tools to build me an actual house, she told me she’d build it out of something else.

Fiona paints cardboard pieces to look like bricksA little while later I found her wrestling with the big kitchen scissors and a cardboard box. Before she lost a finger I offered to cut for her, and she had me cut off several dozen little rectangles. Next time I stopped by, she was painting them to look like bricks. Different colored bricks for each wall. Her industriousness blows me away.

Fiona's "bricks" drying on the tableLater in the car, I was telling this story to my husband, and he said “So Fiona, you’re going to be a builder now?”

“Yes. At least until the earthquake hits and we all die.”


We’d talked about it a little. She’d seen it on the news, and I explained to her about how the earth is like a bunch of big puzzle pieces trying to fit together, and luckily we don’t live near any of the pieces that are banging up against each other hard enough to make buildings fall down. She’s not buying it. She genuinely scared.

When the twin towers fell Jake was only five weeks old, and Fiona hadn’t even occurred to me yet. It brought my brain back to a place it hadn’t really been since I was in elementary school and “The Day After” was on TV. I was convinced for a while that there really wasn’t any point to doing anything productive, because I was going to die in a nuclear attack long before I’d have to find a job anyway (of course, this may have been my brain’s way of trying to get out of homework). That kind of hopelessness is a hard thing for a kid to shake.

It will fade eventually though, and be replaced with something else. She’s simply a worrier. There always has to be something on the horizon waiting to eat her or destroy her house or take her family. Last week, it was zombies. Before that, it was ghosts. I kind of miss them. They were easier to deal with than something as real as an earthquake and a tsunami.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage, and podcasts with The Blogging Angels.


  1. says

    I had to laugh when I started reading this post: My daughter wanted to be a “swimming artist” when she was younger (she is now 17). Those were the days. Yes, life is seeming very complicated and scary now. Know that others are feeling the same, but we all must have hope in a better future…what’s the alternative? I’ll be back to read!

  2. says

    My son is kind of entranced by the whole thing. He is glued to the news but not saying much. I know I have to deal with it and start talking. It’s just so hard to describe and explain to very young children. I feel like this year it’s been one horror after another with Cairo, Libya, Christ Church and now the situation in Japan which is more horrible than anything in the world. How do we talk about it with our children?

    • says

      @holly: I’ve been trying to let them take the lead, answering questions when they’ve got them. But my husband has the news on all the time, and is always trying to get them to look at the devastation. I feel like at their ages, if they want to ignore it, good for them!

      But yeah, if your son is watching it all, what to say? It’s like talking about sex – finding just the right amount of info to give them is so hard.

      I think I need to buy a globe. I’m pretty sure my daughter has absolutely no concept of just how far away Japan is.

  3. Una Traynor says

    Oh Man. Fiona is SO taking after me. After I saw Superman 3 I was terrified of earthquakes for about 3 months. The night we watched it (on network TV of course…like three years after it came out…cause we were broke!)I woke up in the middle of the night and the cord form the TV looked like a crack in the floor and I freaked out!

    Remember when Daddy would leave to pick up Mommy from nursing school and I would cry from the minute he left until he got back 20 minutes later? I was convinced that some kind of localized tornado was going to take him away.

    I am still a worry wart…no doubt about it. But at least it isn’t as paralyzing as it was when I was a kid…Fiona will get over it…or at least it will get a bit better.

    • says

      @Una Traynor: She TOTALLY is. We went on the Tower of Terror Ride – which she went on six times last year – and was convinced for half an hour after that she was having a heart attack. Like literally, as in she’d be dead.

  4. says

    She’s adorable and smart and amazing! I love a kid that really thinks! It’s so fun to listen to all the different things our kids want to be when they grow up. My 17yr old son once told me when he was little that he wanted to be a teacher. He completely denies it now – LOL!

    Fiona’s totally awesome creating those bricks, what a cool and smart kid! Did she make the whole house yet?

    • says

      @Lisa Roberson: Not yet, unfortunately we had to go out of town right after she started, and we just got home last night. I’m hoping she’ll pick it up again when she gets home from school today, it’s still all set up on the table.

  5. Cara Robinson says

    Una I totally remember the superman 3 thing. But what I remember more was in school when they showed us a documentary about Pompei and Mt. Vesuvius (not sure how to spell it) I was terrified that a Volcano was going to erupt in Buffalo and kill us all!!!

  6. says

    My 5 years old daughter has been concerned with all these natural disasters lately too. She keeps asking if we are safe and what if…It’s hard to answer all these questions but I have to do it giving reassurance, eventhough I’m a little bit concerned myself.

  7. says

    My daughter changes her occupation daily as well. I always want to encourage her to do whatever she feels is best for her at the time and not try and live up to others expectations. I got caught up in ye’ olde parental fishnet, and worried myself sick day and night in H.S. wrestling with the idea of being what my parents wanted me to be. I think its awesome you allow her to change her mind as many times as she likes, without discouragement.

    • says

      @Danesha Sapp: Thanks! She always seems to return to being a stylist though, that one seems to be the one that’s sticking – she goes off on flights of fancy with the other ones then returns to stylist.

      When I was her age I wanted to be a secretary. I liked the order of things, the idea of running someone’s office and wearing my hair in a bun. Not sure what TV show I got all of that from!

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