"I should be a teacher."
"Oh, okay. How come?"
"Today in chemistry, I helped some kids understand some stuff. I explained how I think about the problems then showed them step-by-step. They took their quiz and Ace'd it. I mean, I know it would be harder with a bunch of kids but it felt good to help them. I mean, I really helped them do better on their quiz."
"It does feel good to make a difference, doesn't it? Yunno . . . if you want to help other people, there are lots of ways to do that, honey. You could be an engineer and help other people too."
"Yeah, but if I was a teacher, then I could coach too and help kids in and out of class."
"Yes, you could but you could be an engineer and be a coach."
"You sound like you don't want me to be a teacher. I know you work a lot Mom, but you always said that whatever I wanted to do when I grew up, I should find a way to help other people, right? Besides, teaching is in my blood."
He smirked at me like he had won an argument then opened the pantry looking for food. I watched my 16-year-old son locate an open bag of tortilla chips and retreat to the computer room. I didn't know if I should take his comments about becoming a teacher seriously or not. The week before, we had visited a college with a respected engineering program. As the professor described the various engineering majors, he also mentioned that they have a new teacher education program focused on STEM. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something flash over his face. I dismissed it at the time. Now mixed feelings of pride and dread swirled in my stomach. I hated feeling this way about my own profession. I would never discourage my son from pursuing his passion, if teaching became his passion, but . . . things are so different now.