Wednesday, July 21, 2010

note to the abandoned (part three): coalescing Wishes

If I were you, reading this, I would now want to know two things: what did the kid Wish for, and why? And if you let me push the bounds of reader response theory that far, then I know some people who want to talk to you, but as for me? I'll just say, good questions, and thank you so much for politely playing along.

What did he Wish for? Well, for one thing, it wasn't Disney.

Disney is, I am told, the Wish most wished, although I do rather think that Erik Martin may inspire a new standard of Wish - and should. Still, Disney (ahem) somehow (insert innocently wide eyes - um, wider - okay, could we stop giggling? Flings up hands, stomps off) eluded the Eldest, who pursued a Wish that began years ago.

I'd like to go and swim at the Great Barrier Reef, he told us, and the adults stopped being polite to each other, and whipped heads around. Listened to the five-year old kid talking about reefs and fish and fragile ecosystems. It's beautiful. I want to go there before it's gone.

There was a long, painful pause. It's too far away, a volunteer told me, and couldn't quite meet the kid's eyes. We can't send you that far. We talked quietly a bit, and I realized that they really couldn't, even if the Man and I managed to get ourselves out to the Reef itself. Sighed. Turned back to the kid.

Do you have another Wish?

He floundered a bit, suggesting a bike? With two wheels?
Love, I'll find a nice used one for you, just down the block - is there something really special that you might like to see, or, do - something that Daddy and I might not be able to do for you? another Wish?
It turns out that it's hard to come up with a Wish. A wish? Sure, no problem - wish for Pokemon cards, a book, a break from your annoying little brother. But a Wish is bigger, and supposed to be out of reach, hovering on the edge of impossible. Thus Erik Martin, who surely knows that sometimes human effort and the delight of play is a thing to be loved, when reality just does not have what you truly want. He did not, after all, ask to have a cure for cancer - these kids are sufficiently wise. Even when a magic wand is on offer.

The Eldest thought. Can I have an apple?

The volunteers considered this. It's unusual to have a request for a computer for a child this age, they said, slowly.

Now? Because I'm hungry. And while the adults looked confused, then bemused, he fetched. Bit. And chewed.

I swear, that was not me giggling behind the ottoman.

Over the next few years, something began to coalesce, then evolve - and occasionally, subduct. My sons became enamored of rocks, partly as solid and splendidly dirty objects to shove into one's pockets, and partly as bearers of potential treasure. Diamonds, see? Look! And I think that's silver. Oh - and that one over there, do you see it? Look!

Rocks clunk around in my washing machine, line up on the windowsills and are given to me as small, medium and alarmingly large, inarguably precious gifts. It was inevitable, then, that the Man would jump into minerology and geology, inescapable that our Father's Day gift would be a book of elements. Complete with excellent photos of rocks.

I want to climb a mountain, he told us. The adults considered the six-year-old. Which mountain? they asked, and he shrugged.

The mountain is in Hawaii, he told me. I blinked at the seven-year-old. It is? Mountain? Oh, I said, remembering. That mountain. But the Foundation blinked harder. But why must the mountain be in Hawaii? they asked, reasonably. And I didn't know.

I want to climb a volcano and find some igneous rocks, the Eldest told us, gently touching a precious stone or two. And find some endangered species. Listening, memory struck me, and I nodded. Hawaii has some of those, I told him. The most in the world.

The Eldest threw his shoulders back, and lifted his chin. Then we must go there, and save some, he told me. I applauded, and wished the magic wand wielders the very, very best of luck.

Because this kid is unlikely to accept costumes.

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