When Peter was in kindergarten he brought home a paper called “All About Me” where you fill in the blanks of statements like, “My favorite color is...,” “My favorite food is…,” “My favorite holiday is…,” etc. The one thing I will always remember about this form is the statement that read, “If I could do anything I would…” After reading the sentence, I eagerly looked at Peter to see what he would say. Without any hesitation he said, “If I could do anything I would sleep.”
What? Wait, timeout I said, I don’t think you understood the question. Think about if you could travel anywhere in the world, meet a famous person, or have an amazing adventure. No, he replied, I like to sleep. I kept encouraging other options like meet the President, be an astronaut, go to Africa, and so on. There was no changing his mind though. I really like to sleep he insisted.
I’m sure his affinity for sleep was due to the many hospitalizations he endured in his early years and how, consequently, he has always felt safe and comfortable in his own bed. But still, this was his biggest dream at five? I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of that, so I decided better to laugh about it and move on. Perhaps too early to dwell on his ambitions and future I thought-- or rather hoped!
I was reminded of this experience again recently when Peter brought home a similar piece of paper; this time entitled “The Real Me—Today.” The questions were a little different now that he is in fifth grade, but the answers were still interesting and amusing. The last sentence on the page said, “If I could have three wishes I would want…” Oh no, I thought, here we go again. I sure hope sleeping isn't still on the list! Typical of what I have now come to expect from Peter, however, his answers made me both laugh and cry. His three wishes were:
1) to see my cousin Tommy again,
2) to not be different, and
3) to have a mansion.
His first two responses obviously tugged at my heart, especially knowing that I cannot make them come true. The third one though caught me by surprise. Why do you want to have a mansion I asked? Because I want to be rich he said. Well then, I said, you might want to start thinking more about your answer to number nine. This sentence read, “When I finish school I want to…” Peter’s answer was “I don’t know.” I said you will have to find a way to make a lot of money if you want to be rich. He absorbed that thought for about a half second, grabbed his iPod Touch, and was quickly caught up in a stimulating game of “Angry Birds.”
As I watched him walk away I thought, he possesses more wisdom than most of us acquire in a lifetime. What Peter already knew at the age of five, takes most of us our entire lives to learn. It’s really the simple things like our own bed, our health, and spending time with loved ones that matter the most.