Chapter 12

When I grow up, I want to be

Illustration de Paloma Agüera

With his knees on the table next to the wall, the little boy, with his face pressed to the window, looks fascinated at what is happening in the street. It’s 7 o’clock in the morning and no one is awake at home yet, but he has been awake for a while waiting for the most incredible moment of the day. When he hears his father shuffling down the hallway, just out of the room and on his way to take his first pee of the morning, he calls out to him and, although he knows what his son is up to, he holds on, squeezes his bladder, and leans next to his son at the table to share the show that two floors below, in the street, some men perform every day, from Monday to Sunday, nearly always at the same time. 

– It’s very clear to me, Dad – says the little boy, keeping his flattened nose pressed against the glass. 

Before following the path that leads to the toilet, he removes his eye crusts, kisses his forehead and has a last look at the street, where the show is about to end. At the door of the room, as if he was remembering something he was going to forget after urinating, he turns around and tells him that there is still a long way to go, that he should focus on studying because, for that, as for anything else, the most important thing is to study. The boy, who has not yet finished primary school, doesn’t even flinch at this imperative, but changes his face when his father finally says that when he grows up, he also wants to be something else. 

– But you’re already grown up – he comments in surprise, his head turned towards the door. 

In the bathroom, washing his hands in front of the mirror, he doesn’t look so old that he can’t be something else, that he can’t dream of another son, a different job, a routine in a distant city, new friends. At thirty-three years old, all he really has is a whole life ahead of him. 

On his way to the bedroom to wake up his wife and prepare breakfast together, he finds himself, once again, interrupted by his son who pulls on his pants and who, with a gesture of impatience, shouts at him: 

– When I grow up, I want to be a garbage truck driver. 

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