Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wish Doctor at Your Service

My wife, 5-year-old son and I passed a water fountain, and sure enough my boy wanted a coin so he could make a wish. This wasn’t your typical fountain for wishing. It was a drinking fountain.

“I wish I love my family,” my son said as he tossed the penny into the basin.

My son makes the same wish every time.

“If you wish to love your family,” I tell my son, “that means you don’t love us, and you’re really asking the Wishing Fairy to grant you the ability to love us.”

“Ohhhhhhhh,” my son says. “Then I wish I do love my family.”

“But that’s a statement, not a wish,” I tell him.

I don’t exaggerate when I say this conversation has taken place over 100 million times, and my wife and I have made no progress. So last week I decided to cure my son of “poor wishing.”

I asked the boy (hereinafter referred to as “The Patient”) to come see me in the den after school. I made him sign in for his appointment at the kitchen. My wife collected his co-pay from his piggy bank.

“Please be seated,” I said to The Patient. “It seems you have a wishing problem.”

“I just wished I love my family,” he said.

“Uh huh,” I said. I took out a notepad, the kind you find in your mailbox with a realtor’s name on it. I scribbled some notes. “How long has this been going on?”

The Patient didn’t speak.

“Interesting,” I said.

My response to his response meant only one thing: for the first time in my one-day medical career as a Wish Doctor, I was able to use the word “interesting” in my line of questioning.

I pondered a cure. The Patient didn’t have a simple case of Erroneous Wishtrophy or Palpable Wish Dimorphism where medication or surgery of the rear outer/frontal lobe of the brain (which houses the X and Y stimuli used for the formation of a wish) leads to a cure. No, this was something foreign.

The Patient was looking at a gloomy prognosis for recovery. For another first time in my medical career, I was flummoxed. I had to give up or forever lose my dignity in the medical profession.

Instead I referred to my Encyclopedia Britannica for answers.

My search came up negative. I found myself facing a block wall, but one with an exit door if I so chose to take it.

Instead I took out my scalpel, some construction paper and a few magic markers. I constructed a wishing fountain façade, gave The Patient a roll of pennies, and asked him to wish until he got it right. Yes, success was in my future, maybe even the Nobel Prize.

Wish by wish, my short-lived medical career went down the fake fountain drain. The Patient only wished to love his family. I tried feeding him real wishes like, “I wish for a bike . . . I wish for a G.I. Joe with the kung fu grip . . . I wish for a bad crop report so my stock in frozen concentrated orange juice will flourish,” but that didn’t help.

I threw in the proverbial towel and resigned as lead doctor in my home.

The next day, my son and I ended up in a public restroom. He spotted the urinals and asked for a coin to make a wish. I gave him a penny and didn’t try to correct him when he said, “I wish I love my family” while throwing the coin and his wish into the toilet.

Then it hit me -- not the coin, but the meaning of the wish, “I wish I love my family.” My son is basically guaranteeing via the Wishing Universe that he’ll love his mom and dad forever. Even when he becomes 13, when kids become teenagers and learn to hate their parents to be socially cool, our son will be stuck loving us as a result of the wishes he made throughout childhood.

And Mommy and Daddy will live happily ever after.

-December 2008

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