It was a few weeks after Charlie’s birthday, and he seemed a little down. He wasn’t as excited about his favorite dinosaur movie or the next dinosaur club meeting. Isaac was a little concerned.
After reading the latest chapter in their book at bedtime, Isaac marked their place and set the book aside. “Charlie, is everything alright?”
Charlie sat up on his bed. “I don’t know. Dad, do you think wishes are real?”
Isaac looked up to where Charlie was perched at the edge of his loft bed. “What do you mean?”
Charlie swung his legs over the side of the bed, under the guard rail, and began to swing them as he spoke. “Oh, you know, like birthday wishes. Everyone says that if you make a wish and blow out all the candles in one breath and don’t tell anyone what you wished for, then your wish will absolutely come true.”
“I’ve heard that too.” Isaac smiled. “I remember that you blew all the candles out so quickly that your mom didn’t have a chance to take a picture.”
Charlie nodded. “I did. I blew out all the candles in one breath and didn’t tell anyone, and my wish still didn’t come true.”
“Hmmmm.” Isaac thought for a moment. “Was it the kind of wish that could maybe come true later?”
“I don’t know. I guess so. But how can I know? I can’t even ask you about it without telling my wish and spoiling everything anyway.” Charlie pulled his legs back up onto the bed and laid back with a flop. “It’s just not fair.”
“I have an idea.” Isaac leaned back in his chair. “What about a guessing game?”
“A guessing game?”
“That’s right. I’ll guess your wish.”
Charlie sat up again and looked down at Isaac. “But won’t that be like telling you what it is?”
“I think it would be okay. You wouldn’t be telling me the wish, just if I guessed right or not.”
“That makes sense.” Charlie laid back down again. “Go ahead and guess.”
“Does it have anything to do with dinosaurs?” Isaac knew Charlie loved dinosaurs, so this seemed like a safe guess.
“Dinosaur clubs? Toys? Movies? Books?”
“No. No. No. No.”
Isaac thought for a moment. What else was important to Charlie? “Does it have anything to do with gardens?”
“Dinosaurs in gardens?”
Charlie nodded, and his hair made a swishy sound on his pillow. “Yes.”
“A real dinosaur?”
“Yes. But I didn’t get one. Are birthday wishes just pretend?” Charlie sounded sad.
“Why do you think people make birthday wishes?” Isaac asked.
“Is it supposed to be a fun game? Or something like that?” Charlie replied.
“Birthday wishes are supposed to make us happy,” Isaac said. “Sometimes just imagining getting the wish makes us happier than actually getting the wish would. I don’t think a dinosaur would really be happy living in our little garden.”
“Maybe not. But if he stayed little…” Charlie held his hands a few inches apart.
“Then it would just be a lizard, right?” Isaac chuckled. “When you make a birthday wish, it gives you a chance to think about what you really want most. That’s always the first step in reaching your dreams. Sometimes, that’s enough for you to recognize the opportunity to achieve your dream when it comes your way. Other times it takes a little more work. But, once a year, you have a chance to think about what you really, really want most. And maybe someone somewhere out there is listening in and nudging things in your favor if you can blow all the candles out in one breath. Maybe.”
“Hmmmm.” Charlie was quiet for a little while. “Maybe having a real dinosaur wouldn’t be that great. I don’t think real dinosaurs can talk or solve mysteries or ride in spaceships, not like they do in the movies and books.”
“I haven’t met any, so I can’t tell you for certain, but you’re probably right.”
Charlie sighed. “I should have wished for a lizard. Or that no one in our family had allergies any more so I could get a puppy.”
“I like the no allergy wish. Maybe I’ll wish for that on my birthday.” Isaac stood up.
“Is it too late to change my wish?” Charlie asked.
“The rules don’t say, so I guess that’s up to you.” Isaac turned out the light. “Good night, Charlie. I love you.”
“Good night, Dad. I love you too. Hey, Dad?”
Isaac paused at the door. “Yes?”
“There are some pieces of cake left. Maybe I can try again tomorrow?”
Isaac smiled. “We could probably do that.”