“You will be president of a small country.”
That’s what the little white slip of paper hidden in my fortune cookie told me. That one sentence managed to transport me to a completely different time.
As a child, I aspired to be the president. On days when that big sister complex manifested itself a little more severely than others, I dreamt of being queen of the world. It was that limitless imagination that made me push myself in every aspect of life. My goal was, quite simply, to be the best.
A boy who attends my church sets similar standards for himself. And most often, he is the best. When doing sword drills — a game where a leader shouts out a Bible reference and the first person to locate the verse is declared winner — I am frequently forced to remove him from the race, instead asking him to call out references, just so someone else has a chance at winning.
Another boy at church was captivated when we spoke about the power of mustard seed-sized faith. He quickly pointed out a situation in Mexico where people were in danger because of the smog trapped over their city by surrounding mountains. He said that if someone with faith the size of a mustard seed would just go move the mountains for them, they could be saved.
Now I wonder when we adults stopped thinking like this. Sure, a better understanding of reality is an important part of growing up, but was it really necessary to let go of all of our imagination and dreams, our aspirations and fantasies?
Both of these boys have fathers in the Army. Both of them were deployed last year. I’d say these kids have a pretty strong handle on reality — both the realities of war and the realities of humanity — but they have somehow retained their sense of wonder and drive.
I think it’s time we all step back from our platforms of skepticism and look at the world through a child’s eyes. I think we might be surprised at what we learn.
I’m not saying I’ll ever become President of the United States. That’s something I’ve let go. After all, my fortune said “a small country.”
If you, or someone you know, are interested in having a child featured in this series focusing on children, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.