Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Careful What You Wish For

About ten years ago, my kids and I were spending a sunny Saturday at Knott's Berry Farm, an amusement park in Southern California.  Ryan was seven years old and Lindsay was four, and as we were enjoying our lunch of seven-dollar hamburgers and three-buck fries, Lindsay noticed a "wishing pond" nearby.

"Daddy, can I have money to throw in the water?" she asked.

"Haven't we thrown away enough money today, sweetie?"  I asked.  The sarcasm was lost on her.

"I want to make a wish.  Can I have a quarter?"

"How about a penny?"  After dropping a hundred and fifty bucks on park admission and about fifty more on food, it was time to start cutting corners.

"No, Dad, you don't get your wish for a penny.  They cost a quarter."  I must've missed the memo on that one.  Who says you can't put a price tag on your dreams?

"I wanna make a wish too!" said Ryan.

We emptied our lunch trays in the trash cans and walked over to the wishing pond.  I gave each kid a quarter, and watched as they closed their eyes, silently mouthed their wishes, and chucked the coins into the pond.

"What did you wish for?" I asked them.

"Daaa-aaad," said Ryan.  "If we tell you, they won't come true."

"That's just for birthday wishes.  It's okay to talk about coin wishes."

"I don't think so, Dad."

"If I made a wish, I'd tell you," I said.

"Well, then it wouldn't come true." said Lindsay, the resident expert on wish protocol.

"You're really not going to tell me?"

"Nope!" they answered in unison.

The following Monday night at the dinner table we were making the usual small talk.  How was your day, did you learn anything at school, that sort of thing.

"So, Lindsay, what's the best thing that happened today?" I asked.

"Oh!  I forgot to tell you!  My wish came true!"

"What wish?"

"The one I made at Knott's Berry Farm.  I wished that Daniel in my class would disappear." Daniel was the Tutor Time Preschool's resident bully.  I'd seen the kid a few times when I picked Lindsay up, smoking cigarettes he kept hidden in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lunchbox.

"You wished that Daniel would disappear?" I asked, chuckling.


"And it came true?"

"Yeah!  When Miss Wendy called the rolls this morning she said that Daniel won't be here anymore 'cause he moved!  I got my wish!" 

Though I understood Lindsay's desire to get rid of the little punk, I didn't want her to think that she could just wish people away as nice a thought as that is.  I tried to explain to her that Daniel's family would've moved anyway, that they were probably making their plans long before we went to Knott's that day, but at age four she wasn't buying it.  This was no coincidence.  In her mind, she'd banished her nemesis to Siberia with the magic quarter of doom.

Across the table, I noticed Ryan blowing furiously on his mashed potatoes.  After a few huffs and puffs, he slammed his spoon down and stomped upstairs.  This was unusual, as Ryan's always been a fairly easy-going kid.  I went up to his room and found him lying on his bed, scowling at the ceiling.

"What's wrong, dude?" I asked.

"It's not fair.  Lindsay's wish came true but mine didn't."

"Well, Ry, I don't really think her wish came true, exactly."

"You heard her!  She wished for that kid to disappear and now he's gone!  She got her wish, but I didn't get mine!"

"What is it that you wished for, anyway?"

"To be able to breathe fire."



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Linnnn said...

Getting his flamethrower on at a very early age! Tell Dragon-Boy to get ready for adolescence - between ignoring the dental hygiene thing, dark teen angst,and the bad language (my fault entirely), he'll breathe fire!

Debbie(single;complicated) said...

how cute!!! Not such a bad thing to believe that wishes come true...soon enough we learn they don't!! revel in the belief for now!:)

Moooooog35 said...

Breathing fire does not just come to you overnight.

Although, eating lots of hummous seems to help.

KaLynn said...

You may just have to tell him that his wish is going to take longer to appear! When it happens then you can remind him of his wish of long ago. . . =0D

Eva Gallant said...

That was too cute. Actually, years ago, first hubs and I spent a week at his parent's house. They had an obnoxious, yapping dog. When we left after 7 days of listening to that little beast, I turned to hubs and said "I hate that dog. I wish here were dead!" Less than 30 minutes later, we were at my mother's house and hubs sister called him to tell him their dog had died! For real.

Heff said...

I recommend Habeneros.

Quirkyloon said...

"wish protocol"

Another area I am clueless about.

Is that why MY wishes aren't coming true?

Please allow your daughter to clue the rest of us in.

otin said...

To breathe fire! LMAO! Obviously a big Godzilla fan!

JohnnyB said...

I wouldn't cross Lindsay if I were you. She'll wish you into the cornfield.

Frank Lee MeiDere said...


Suldog said...

LOL ending. Seriously funny.

Did you tell him if he breathes fire his teeth will melt? That might distract him for a while.

Salt said...

Fantastic. I can think of a number of people that I wish I could just wish away.

And fire breathing would definitely be useful also.

Ryan said...

Just so you know, I'm still pissed.

Jenn of Many Cabbages said...

Aw, don't you hate it when those superpowers don't kick in when you need them?

Did you tell him his wish HAD come true, he just hadn't figured out how to use his powers yet? :)

ReformingGeek said...


Breathing fire? Oh yeah, that would have been really cool at that age....or any age. Just think what you could do to a**hole bosses!

Marissa said...

Fire-breathing wishes cost 2 quarters + tax. Fuel prices gone up.

I'm Jane said...

And now the tooth fairy leaves cash instead of coins. Sigh.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

That's a great, great story, Knuck, from both the standpoint of content and storytelling. I loved it from start to finish. It's what I would call "tight," if that makes sense. It's very real, you let the humor come to the reader instead of forcing it, and the narrative pulls you through gently before ending nicely with a little twist. I'm not a lit critic, and not that you care what I think, but I believe it may be the best post you've written since I started reading "Knucklehead!" Thanks.

screwdestiny said...

As annoying as kids can be, they do seem to make for great blog stories.

CatLadyLarew said...

Poor little Ry... he must not have followed the protocol properly.

Funnyrunner said...

LLOL!!! That's hysterical. I wish I could breathe fire, too. Boy would the boys listen better...

and hey- thanks for reading and supporting me notwithstanding my absence from the blogosphere. ;)

lime said...

and thus we find the secret to wishes coming true is making sure they are within the realm of reality. lol

lime said...

although there are circus performers who could help him...just sayin'

The Good Cook said...

Ryan will have to take lessons from my husbands ex-wife, I'm pretty sure she can breathe fire.

Candy's daily Dandy said...

In my experience anything that goes in and leaves one breathing fire always hurts worse on the way out on the other end.

Way too much info for a small child.

Tgoette said...

Sooooo funny! Gotta love children and the wildly silly things that come out of their mouths! I would have never thought of fire-breath, but it's a good wish to want!

chrismkim said...

daniel smoked cigarettes at age 4 (the same age as your daughter i assume)? i'm just curious.

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