What Kids Believe
One night, you're lying in bed calculating how impossibly small the toothfairy has to be to get through your screened window, and the next, you're wondering how quietly your mom or dad had to sneek the money under your pillow in order not to wake you up.
Last night, Johnny and Richie had a plan to sneak out of bed and grab some popcorn out of a bowl two inches away from me. All without me seeing them. You see, they are invisible unless I make eye contact with them.
Their feet pounded on the hardwood floors. They paused in the living room, one room over from where I was checking e-mail.
"Okay, now!" Johnny said, and they ran right behind me and reached in the popcorn bowl.
Finally, I looked at Johnny.
"Doh," he said, throwing his head back, as if it was the worst possible luck that I would turn my head right then.
"Go back to bed," I said sternly.
Richie still didn't realize they'd been caught. He danced away, saying, "Hahaha." Then, when I turned my head, he sprinted dramatically past me and grabbed his own handful of popcorn.
Johnny grabbed for a second handful of popcorn and asked, "Are we buying a new car tomorrow?"
Earlier in the night, I had told him our plans for today were up in the air because daddy might need our car.
"I wonder if I have enough money to buy us a new car," he said, emptying his gold plastic coins onto his little table.
It was the pirate loot he and Richie recovered in Plymouth, Mass.
Now, we don't actually need a new car. We're buying my late grandmother's New Yorker. What we need is a new attitude for Justin's truck. It breaks down for a new reason every day. It needs to read the Little Engine that Could and suck it up.
As I was tucking Richie in, singing, "The Rainbow Connection," by Kermit the Frog, Johnny walked in with a swagger.
"Yeah. 11 billion dollars," he said. "Is that enough to by a car?"
Among other things.
So he keeps asking me which dealership we're going to today. Obviously we're going to the one that sells solid gold cars with hot tubs in the backseat. But I think it's closed today, unfortunately.
Maybe we could design our own car, like Johnny did in science class one time. It had a kitchen in it. Like an R.V., I guess. It will have to be specially made. That will buy me some time.
But when does it click?
A few weeks ago, he wished on a star to have a robot that did whatever he said.
"What would you ask it to do?" I asked.
"I'd ask him to make me sandwiches," he said.
Last night he asked, "When do you think I'll get my robot?"
I guess he wanted a sandwich.
Three nights ago, he backpedaled from believing in the pirate boat we saw in Plymouth.
"Why was the boat so small?" he asked. "Why was the pirate so short?"
"Maybe he was a dwarf," I said.
"He looked like he was wearing a mask."
"You can say that again," I said. "He was ugly."
"I think he was a fake pirate," Johnny finally said.
"Really?" I asked. "I don't think so because would a fake pirate try to take Nana captive?"
"No," he said.
"And why would a fake pirate have a real treasure?"
He couldn't answer that.
I'm just dreading the day that he tries to buy a piece of candy with those plastic coins. Because once one golden belief turns out to be plastic, everything loses its shine. The toothfairy. The Easter Bunny.
But not the wishing star. Even grownups believe in that. We can see it shining night after night. A real star that works if we wish for the right things.
I wish Justin's truck would sit in our driveway and pout all day instead of working properly so that Justin could take it to work.
My wish came true! You see how that works?