Sunday, July 30, 2006

Wishing Star

I don't know how they do it, maybe it's their innocence, but kids have an uncanny ability to send their cherubic, but still piercing, arrows straight through our parental hearts.

For example, my daughter has become obsessed with dogs and getting a puppy. And by obsessed, I mean every book she checks out of the library is either a doggie reference book or a dog story. We no longer read bedtime stories together. Noooooo, we have to read a book called the Dog Bible--which is basically an encyclopedia of dogs, dog history, dog breeds, dog care, dog training, dog trivia, etc. She visits a website about suitable dog breeds for children as often as we will let her. I'd venture to say that she knows more about dogs and the various breeds at this point than most veterinarians. And she is relentless. She asks every day, many times a day, when she can get a puppy, despite the fact that we already have dogs. Yes, that's dogs, plural. ("But mo-om, I want my own puppy.") For weeks this has been going on. This is worse than some girls' obsession with horses.

Our answer is always the same--not while we already have multiple dogs. You'd think, since the answer is always the same, she'd get the idea. Maybe she thinks if she keeps asking, I will, in a moment of sheer forgetfulness or insanity, give her a different answer. I get it, I get it: She REALLY wants a puppy.

I've got to say that this has really been getting on my nerves.

Until she up and does something that (almost) melts all my resolve.

One day recently, we found the following note, written in her almost-second-grade handwriting, under her pillow:

"Dear Wishing Star,
I wish for a puppy. How long will it take for a wish to come true? Will my wish be granted?
(Insert daughter's name here)
P.S. My bed is the blue bed with flowers on it."

Well, I caught my breath and my eyes filled with tears. If this were an older kid, I would assume that the note was meant to manipulate us into getting a dog. But darling daughter is still young -- at the point where she still kind of believes in the tooth fairy, wants to believe in the tooth fairy, even though some friends have told her there's no such thing. And she never even mentioned to me or her dad that she had written this note. Not a word, not a peep. Not even when she didn't get a return communication (as she sometimes does from the tooth fairy, as you will see below). This clearly was between her and her wishing star. No, I don't think any manipulation was intended.

The longing in her note--along with the directions about where to find her bed--nearly broke my heart. She's done this to me one other time, as well. Whenever she loses a tooth, darling daughter usually leaves a note to the tooth fairy under her pillow asking for the gift she'd like in exchange for her tooth. One night some time ago, we retrieved a note that asked for "a pair of really real wings. So I can fly." She didn't want a book or money or a toy. She wanted to soar.

Her notes brought me back to a time when I also believed such things were possible--and not just as a faint, sweet memory, but with a visceral I-just-traveled-back-in-time jolt. I remember how it FELT to have such hope. Don't you remember when you felt as if you had a direct line to the universe, and someone or something would respond to your entreaties, however unreal they might be? I think this reminder of innocence and hope is a bittersweet gift our children give us, and I so wanted to make her, this little girl who still believes in magic and wishing stars and tooth fairies, happy. But I couldn't. At least not in the way she wanted. I could, however, help her maintain her sense of magic and wonder a while longer.

And so the tooth fairy responded with a note--but one that had to tell my sweet girl that even the tooth fairy could not bring her wings. One that said that only fairies and other naturally winged creatures were allowed to have wings in this world, but that she could still fly in her dreams.

I'm feeling guilty about the wishing star taking so long to respond to dear daughter's appeal, but I've been weighing what to do. Should I just let it go--and maybe cause a little of the magic to go out of her world, or should I respond, as I did on behalf of the tooth fairy--in such a way that mixes fact and fiction, so that she can remain a little girl, full of wonder, a while longer?


Anonymous said...

I am so impressed with your daughter's perseverence. Just think, you are providing her with something to finally talk about with her future therapist. Seriously, you are doing a great job to keep that youthful wonder and belief alive!

By the way, I am reading all of your blog entries today, and I think they may be the beginnings of a literary career. Maybe not every entry, but several remind me of some of the commentaries/stories on NPR. But hey, I am biased, being related and all!

P.S. That crack about a lot of fodder from the family trip did not go unnoticed!

Karen said...

Hey, which relative are you? Or are you deliberately being mysterious?


Anonymous said...

which sister could it be?