by Silver RavenWolf copyright 2010
The father and daughter stood at a circular wooden table piled high with torn strips of white cloth and a selection of indelible markers. The sweet sounds of a violin and the soft beat of a drum filtered through the garden. Dozens of women and children, and several men, too, milled around the herbs and flowers, their amazing costumes sparkling as they moved in and out of squealing children and doting parents.
“Write your wish on the sheet strip,” said the extravagantly dressed purple fairy that stood beside the pair. “Then tie the cloth to one of the branches of this tree over here,” she said pointing to the already overburdened linden tree. “The wind will carry your desires to fruition.” The fairy smiled a purple smile and wandered off down one of the many cobbled path.
“What do you want to wish for?” asked the little girl’s father.
The child, her round face framed with soft, brandy colored curls smiled. Seriously contemplating the question, her brow furrowed. She glanced up at the warm, September sun. The heady aroma from the surrounding herbs and late summer flowers blended with the sights, colors, and sounds of the Fairy Fest around her. A perfect field to make a wish. She stared off into the distance at the fairy creating balloon animals, and then said:
“What?” asked her father, his dismay punching through his voice like fingernails on a chalk board. “You don’t need that!”
Her little shoulders cringed, yet her determination showed clearly in her eyes. She argued her point.
He, in his starched shirt and dress pants, argued authoritatively back. The energy around the two switched from pleasant to nasty in 2.5 seconds flat.
Why is it, I thought, that parents operate under the assumption that children think like they do?
Normally I consider the consequences before I open my big fat mouth (normally); but, I could see this situation going from bad to worse real fast. I knew his concern. I’d seen how much an I-Pad cost just yesterday…by accident, in fact, and I knew where his head was at — an eight-year-old little girl does not need an I-Pad (for a lot of reasons). Telling her what she didn’t need, however, was the worst way to go. Besides, I thought to myself in my defense, I had my granddaughter here beside me, and I had no intention of letting her witness this altercation that was getting blacker. So, I opened my mouth.
“Why not?” I asked, addressing them both, “making your wish for joy and happiness instead?”
They looked at me in surprise. No, I thought, you are not alone in your argument. The playing field has just widened and I’m in it. I could tell the father wasn’t real thrilled with my butting in; but, the little girl repeated the words “joy” and “happiness” and so he backed down, realizing, with irritation I might add, that he was getting rescued.
I smiled at the girl. “An I-Pad would make you happy, right?”
She nodded. “Oh, yes!”
“But so do lots of other things, right?”
“Yes…” she said. I could see the wheels turning in her head.
“So, no matter what you get, as long as it brings joy and happiness, it doesn’t matter what it is. It could be an I-Pad, or it could be something better!”
“That’s true!” she said, smiling. “I’ll definitely ask for joy and happiness!”
“Smart girl,” I said.
Her father jumped on the train of thought and wrested the track back into his own territory, pushing the joy and happiness scenario and being careful to write exactly what she said on the strip of cloth. Once her wish was made, he speedily hung it on the tree, grabbed her hand, and quickly melded into the Fairy Fest crowd.
I turned to my granddaughter, who even though she is only three, watched the exchange with quiet interest. Sometimes, she reminds me of a hawk. “What wish would you like to make?” I asked her.
She handed me the pen. “Joy and happiness, Ama.”