My daughter first expressed an interest in becoming a police officer after a police woman came to her preschool to talk about her job. When she came home, she explained with great earnestness that police "help dead people". Her interest in law enforcement was not entirely a surprise since she really likes to be clear about what is right and what is wrong, but when we dug a little, it turned out that the thing she liked the most was "her voice". Her interest in policing endured. Having only ever wanted to be a teacher, or a helicopter pilot (remember Danger Bay?) or a dancing missionary (I'll tell you about that one another time) myself, I could not really relate. She, and later her brother, continued to enjoy games with their friends involving putting people in jail (usually their Dad) and taking turns being police officer #1 and police office #2.
This has changed a bit, ever since my mother introduced my daughter to a great book called Wangari's Trees of Peace about the activist Wangari Maathai who won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work fighting deforestation in Kenya. In the story, the writer tells about how Wangari even went to jail for her beliefs. This made a big impression on my daughter. She told me about the story (that she had already read several times by this point) and made it known that it is indeed possible to go to jail for doing the right thing not just for doing something wrong.
This interest in making sense of questions of justice, and right and wrong is understandable to me now as I begin to realize that these concept are among the one that they grapple with the most at this stage in their lives. My youngest is now starting to tackle these concepts too. Just the other day, he said, "if adults use bad words, they go to jail, right?" Well...(sigh),... I certainly hope not!
Here is a lovely story told by Wangari, who passed away last year, about working for peace: