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This is your fault, Sean Riley

The daredevil TV host has given my daughter outsized ambitions.

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I will take part of the blame. I saw the "World's Toughest Fixes" giant wind turbine show, hosted by Sean Riley, and I couldn't wait to show it to Peanut (my offspring, age 6), so perhaps this is not all Mr. Riley's fault. The current situation is that my daughter wants to be a professional rigger (by trade), and I don't have a problem with that at all. She's already corrected me several times on bridge construction ("It's an I-beam, Mama, not an I-bar") and, besides, how many people are actually killed by landslides each year at Niagara Falls?

She knows how to fix the Columbia River dam and the Alaskan oil pipeline and everything else on the show. Let me repeat: I don't have a problem with the trade of rigging or the possible dangers involved. The problem is she was going to be a Coast Guard pilot, and, in fact, thanked me for finding the keys to the helicopter the other day.

We were in Dillingham, Alaska, on a warm-ish (above 15 degrees) day in March when a Coast Guard helicopter flew across the sky in front of us. I drove my then-3-year-old out to the airport to watch it fuel up and take off again. And once she learned that the Coast Guard rescues people who are in trouble, she decided she was the pilot with an extremely useless crew and had to do everything herself. She started telling everyone we ran into "I'm a pilot," whether or not they had asked about her profession.

I don't remember wanting to be anything when I grew up.

We were sent outside to play for the entire day to preserve my mom's sanity, so I never had the Sean Riley influence. My mom took care of us; my dad took care of everything else. A teenager I knew once told me that she was going to be a pediatric endocrinologist when she grew up; as far as I knew, I was just going to be.

In high school, reality, cynicism, and skepticism started exerting themselves in my mind with regards to the future. My idea of joining the Air Force was thwarted by the fact that pilots have to have perfect vision. The Coast Guard was out, because my principal told me that only the governor's kids get in so they could avoid real service and that I didn't want to do that.


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