The Butler

A few months ago I sat in an elementary school library proudly watching as a panel of teachers, administrators and community members quizzed a group of children who had been identified as school leaders on how they were applying leadership skills inside school and out. When the question arose, “What do you want to be when you finish school?” the answers inevitably included doctor, President, scientist who finds the cure for cancer, etc.

But when it came time for my Henry to answer, he proclaimed loud and clear: “A Butler.”

I can’t say I was surprised exactly.

A little background:

As a designated Leader in Me school, our elementary school incorporates Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits into our curriculum. Part of this involves sharing our experiences with other schools who want to try and become a Leader in Me school as well. Henry is on the Lighthouse Team, consisting of a group of students who often represent the student body in front of other school leaders and community supporters who might provide funding, etc. I am part of our parent panel, and we also sometimes attend leadership conferences or events to speak on how the 7 Habits curriculum is impacting our children’s’ lives in a positive way, both inside and outside of school.

A little less boring and technical background:

Henry has been saying he wants to be a butler, specifically Cate’s butler, since he was old enough to answer the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”

And he’s not all lip service; Cate has basically been rendered useless due to the fact that Henry does pretty much every single thing for her. Just a few minutes ago, this conversation happened in my kitchen:

Cate: “I want cinnamon toast for lunch.”

Me: “Okay, fix yourself some then.”

Cate: “But how will I know when the toast is done?”

Henry: “I’ll do it Cate. Just go sit down and I’ll get it. Do you want butter on it, too?”

This is not even a rare occurence. She is basically his entire life. I often wonder who would be worse off if one or the other did not exist. And then I think, maybe Cate would eventually learn to clean her own room, or make her own toast, or get her lazy butt off the couch to find the remote; But Henry—I think he would truly be lost without his mission to attend to her every need.

It’s not a bad thing. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to work in a service capacity, even if you have been identified by all your teachers, your principal and your peers as someone who is better suited in a leadership capacity. And he will certainly be well qualified because he’s getting plenty of practice working for Cate. At the very least, he will make a most excellent and doting husband if Cate decides not to hire him.

What I’m more worried about is how Cate will be able to afford him. Clearly he will be the most amazing butler ever, deserving of a good salary, and currently her career goals include, “I want to be an assistant teacher or maybe just a famous person.” I guess if she opts for assistant teacher, I can always keep him around here. He is very excellent at scrubbing down bathrooms and fetching things like blankets and snacks when you don’t feel like moving.

And he’s consistent in his intent to become a butler. Even if he becomes an actor (his other goal), he will still be Cate’s butler, he says.

Over Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend we watched two movies as part of a theme (last year we had the kids do mini-reports on the subject). So this year we watched The Help and The Butler, which both address the Civil Rights movement. True to form, Henry was completely enthralled by both movies, noting out loud during The Butler, “See, that’s what I’m going to do. Except I’ll be doing it for Cate, not the President.”

Keep on with your lofty dreams, my child.

Sorry, had to go with this pic of Lenny as butler and not Forest Whitaker because: Lenny.

Sorry, had to go with this pic of Lenny as butler and not Forest Whitaker because: Lenny. Even though I prefer tattoo Lenny, of course. 

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