On the way to school this week, Ian asked me about stars and wishes. We’d been there before.
‘Daddy, do stars have wishes? Do they come true?’
‘No, honey. It’s just pretend.’ And the sentimentalist in me wondered if Kelly and I were killing our son’s childhood.
We don’t do Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. The Tooth Fairy doesn’t stand a chance. Wishes and magic are kept soundly within the realms of Harry Potter and Daddy’s dragon books. We’ve drawn a distinct line between fact and fiction.
We feel that’s a good thing. So many lines in childhood are blurry enough without tossing flying reindeer into the mix. If stars grant wishes as they convert hydrogen into helium—which is pretty cool by itself—then what about the really important questions, like prayer and faith and God?
Yet as the words left my mouth, I couldn’t help thinking that somehow, on some level, Ian’s imagination was being stunted. As though I were shackling my son’s innocence, and other metaphors you’d expect to hear from a commentary on NPR.
Ian was quiet for a moment. ‘Daddy?’
‘Did you know that there’s a new planet?’
‘Yeah! It’s inside the Earth and it’s very dangerous because it’s bigger than you but don’t worry because I can protect you.’
Take that, Michele Norris!