Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Game Ranger or Chef?

Our nine year old son has wanted to be a game ranger for a long time now, since Animal Planet came into his life when he was about five (before that he wanted to be a pilot). Last week after they had been watching Aladdin, my husband asked the children what three wishes they would ask for, if a Genie appeared in their lives. Our son gave serious consideration to the question.

His first request was to have the materials he needed to make all the projects in his The Science and History Project Book. This is a brilliant book that a friend of his had. He requested it for his birthday present and has been browsing through ever since. It has hundreds of different things you can make, from rockets out of plastic bottles, volcanoes with bicarb, flour and vinegar, suits of armour and foods from different cultures and times in history.

Next after due thought he said he'd like to be a great artist. He gave me more details later. Though he likes the painting he does at school, it's a bit too simple and he'd like to learn to paint like Grandpa, doing very detailed watercolours.

The third wish he would use to set the genie free, like Aladdin did.

Our hearts swelled with parental pride at this mature and considered disposal of his imaginary wishes!

On Thursday, as I was wrestling in the kitchen with some naartjies to make clever naartjie sorbets for the upcoming birthday dinner, he came and sat down with something on his mind. The great question was, what did he need to do to become a game ranger and if he went to college to do that, could he also study to be a great artist? Plus he thought he'd like to open a shop to sell all the things he was going to make from his Science Project Book. If he was working as a game ranger, would his boss let him open a shop right there, so he could keep an eye on the shop while he was working? Then maybe in his holiday time he could do his art. How much holiday did I think he would get as a game ranger? And what would he need to know to run a shop? He thought that even children who were just used to plastic guns from big toy shops would find something they liked in his shop, maybe the suits of armour and swords.

We had a half hour conversation on his career aspirations. I think he has the makings of an entrepreneur, as by the end of it he had shops in several different countries with managers and a team of people that he'd trained to make enough things to sell. My husband then threw some more ideas into the mix, that maybe he'd like to make wild-life films and earn enough to buy his own game farm, then he could open his shop there and sell to his visitors.

He also has the makings of a chef. He recently rediscovered his Cooking with Herb - Herb the Vegetarian Dragon cook book, that he loved when he was small. His grand plan was to cook something from it for Dad's birthday dinner, maybe the spaghetti sandwich or the strawberry slush. My elegant dinner plans were preserved by a diplomatic suggestion from Dad, that he would like him to cook supper on his actual birthday, just for the family and that maybe he could find three recipes for Dad to choose from. This was duly done and the menu decided - Dragonian Quesadillas with spicy tomato salsa. It didn't matter that he doesn't like tomatoes, he was doing this recipe for Dad and maybe he'd try a bit. I questioned the availability of tortillas in our neck of the woods. He reassured me. There was a recipe for them in his Science Project Book.

So yesterday, after the birthday cake was disposed of, we got out the recipes to see what we needed to do. The Science Project Book obliged with a recipe for Aztec Tortillas. He duly measured out ingredients, kneaded the dough, carefully divided it into twelve and weighed each piece to see that they were even. Rolling them out thin needed a little help, but he did half of them before handing the rolling pin over to me and getting on with grating the cheese. He came into his own with the frying of the tortillas though, timing them to the second and flipping them with panache.

All this took a lot of time. 'One minute each side for twelve tortillas, that's twenty four minutes, I think supper will be at quarter to seven'. He was right. I swiftly did the salsa for him, mashed some avos for guacamole, as he concentrated on the tortillas. A whole hour and a half of hard cooking and the birthday supper was on the table. The quesadillas were light and crispy, the salsa spicy (just right for Mum and Dad) and he had triumphed!

His next idea is to get up very early and make them for breakfast and take some to school too.

Sometimes I get nostalgic for the baby years, but nine is a whole new voyage of discovery that delights at every turn.


  1. A message for the young artist:

    Don't forget about the Internet! You don't necessarily have to have an actual store that needs minding in order to sell your artwork.

    You could be a game ranger (like my sister!) if that still appeals to you, and do artwork - and cooking - in your spare time and on holidays.

    Having an online business is still a lot of work, but you don't have to rent a shop or pay people to run the register and clean the floors.

    Just a thought, from one artist to another!

  2. Your boy is an entrepreneur and a kind-hearted soul. The combination of chef and game ranger is perfect - he can take his tourists out on game drives and then cook them a gourmet meal. What a darling. Should we hammer out the terms of an arranged marriage now, or wait till they're a little older?

  3. Thanks for the advice Jennifer, I'll pass it on to the aspirant artist.

    Charlotte, perhaps we'd better meet to thrash out the details. I do agree that these matters are better sorted out early... though I do worry that this younger generation are a little headstrong and might not be guided by their wise parents when the time comes. I don't know what the world is coming to!

  4. MMMM, those home made tortillas sound good. My brother in law is a game ranger working especially with birds of prey in Minnesota and he has time to pursue several other passions, too.


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!