“Adults are always asking kids what they want to be when they grow up because they are looking for ideas.” – Paula Poundstone, comedian.
As adults we have a penchant for asking kids cute questions for which the answers are irrelevant. An impossible number of events, factors, and changes of heart will happen between the age of “child” and deciding what “to be.” I wanted to be a veterinarian when I was in grade one and now the very word “science” produces hives.
Perhaps there’s another reason we like to ask that question. As always, behind any joke is a foundation of truth. In this case, I’d argue it’s largely fear.