Be Careful What You Wish For

Most of us have dreams, hopes, and wishes. Some come true; some don’t.

As children, most of us received encouragement to make a wish and blow out the candles on a birthday cake. And don’t forget blowing a dandelion into the air is another way to make a wish. Children learn to wish upon a star from a variety of people, including Walt Disney. Spring and summer are fruitful for finding lucky four-leaf clovers. There are likely other ways of wishing or finding luck.

But did anyone tell us our wishes didn’t always come true? Suppose our wishes caused pain and problems for someone else?

I hear many complain of the pandemic’s inconveniences. And with their complaints comes a list of wishes, such as:

    • I wish this pandemic was over, done with, gone!
    • I wish we could get back to normal.
    • I wish we didn’t have to wear face masks.
    • I wish we could get together in large groups like we used to.
    • I wish they would open the schools.
    • I wish the governor would open restaurants and bars.
    • I wish we could hug our friends.
    • I wish we didn’t have to miss our friends.

And I could go on and on and on.

While writing this post, my thoughts drifted back in time to a family member making a wish as he headed to bed. And then he awoke the next day to fear and trembling. It’s long in its telling, but I think it has value here.

My younger brother (eight years my junior) never liked school. There were no specific reasons for his dislike of learning. He was bright, energetic (too much so), and strong-willed. He wasn’t a disciplinary problem. Because like his siblings, his behavior fell under the control of our mother’s treatment when she received the news!

On the evening of Wednesday, March 20, 1967, at age 13 and in the eighth grade, my brother grumbled the evening away. He had a heavy homework load; too much homework, according to his thinking. It was the bane of his existence.

As he trundled off to bed, we heard him wishing he didn’t have to go to school the next day. Actually, he wished the school would burn down. Daddy then pointed out in a firm voice he should be careful what he wished for.

The next morning my folks turned on the local news as always. The big story of the day was the overnight fire of none other than the school my younger brother attended. There was no mistaking he would not be going to school that day.

Daddy went to wake him up and tell him the news. The report came back to Mom and me that his boy looked like he was going to pass out.

He trembled at the thought someone would learn he’d wished the school would burn down as he went to sleep the night before. Worse yet, at that moment the news reporter stated the fire was likely the result of arson. We agreed not to tell my brother that bit of news.

This child could be the most Nervous Nellie in the bunch, and this morning he was. Thus, I knew the moment he called me to come into his room that there would be more questions than answers:

“Sis, what am I gonna do?”

“About what?”

“Last night I wished the school would burn down, and it did. All the way to the ground!”

“Yeah, so what? You were home in your bed when the fire started.”

He hesitated — “Well, weren’t you?”

“Sure I was. But will the police and firefighters believe that?”

“Why are you questioning this? Unless they come to question you, and likely they won’t, you need not worry. Are you perhaps hiding something from me?”

“Thanks, sis, I love your confidence in me!”

“Come on. Dad and I have to leave for work or we’ll be late. You have no place to be this morning. Just go back to bed.”

And I walked out and closed the door. I stopped long enough to warn mom she would probably not have a peaceful day with our resident Worry Wart.

The arson investigation completed rather quickly. (No one questioned my brother.) But I don’t remember if they caught the arsonist or not. Yet, to think my younger brother believed so strongly in his wishes still makes me laugh. I concede I couldn’t believe he didn’t have some impact on the whole affair with his bedtime wishes.

When you wish for something, do you ever consider the possibility your wish might come true? Or maybe not?

 
Featured Image Attribution: martinnlp90 from Pixabay

Divorce and Teenagers | A Guest Post on Mary Gottschalk’s Blog

Image: ImageToArt
Image: ImageToArt

Today I’m visiting with Mary Gottschalk on her blog with an essay I wrote on the topic of adolescents and divorce and how that combination impacts a family. My essay dovetails with a novel-in-progress Mary is working on where just such a situation is making life difficult for a mother and her 13-year old daughter. I do hope you will come and visit Mary’s blog and join in the discussion.

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Divorce and teens don’t mix well.

Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., a psychologist in Austin, TX, wrote in an article published in Psychology Today in 2009:

Because the adolescent is at a more disaffected and rebellious stage with parents, divorce can intensifies [sic] their grievances. Rather than cling, the adolescent tends to pull away. Adolescents often feel betrayed by the broken parental commitment to family and become angrier and less communicative. (Emphasis mine.)

I know from experience that something changes during adolescence, creating a resurgence of memories from childhood layered onto the present.

I saw this with my stepdaughter, who was almost six when her parents divorced. By the time Leah (not her real name) reached adolescence, her life experiences included (1) learning she was adopted, (2) seeing her adoptive parents divorce, and (3) watching daddy remarry.

In her memory bank, each of these events directly linked to a woman who had let her down – her birth mother, her adoptive mother, and me. Leah’s adolescent rage centered on a distrust of women.

Leah’s solution: Bring Mom and Dad back together again and all will be right with the world. How to make this happen? Destroy Dad’s new marriage.

Around 15, Leah convinced us her life at home with Mom and Mom’s boyfriends was miserable, and she needed stability. We believed her every word.

Read more here . . . 

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On tap for tomorrow, a post on memory triggers. I think you’ll find it interesting, and I’m looking forward to your comments adding to the list!

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