THURSDAY: Aspirations, Then and Now


Phyllis Humby lives in rural Ontario. Copyright rests with the author.

A CHILD’S THOUGHTS have always fascinated me. Some of my most intelligent and thought provoking conversations have been with children under the age of six.

A recent visit with my three-year-old granddaughter, Sophie, was no exception. As usual, when I mentioned baking cookies, Sophie reached for her Princess apron. On this day, she suggested we put something on top of each cookie. She smiled and gave an enthusiastic nod when I presented chocolate chips. Sophie began placing one chocolate chip in the centre of each unbaked cookie.

“Nana, there are two stuck together.”

“Hmm, you’d better eat those.”

“Do I have to eat all the ones that are stuck?”

A quick glance at the bowl showed only a couple more, “Yes, I suppose you should.”

Her glee was transparent. She continued her baking duties, all the while talking of how much Mommy and Daddy liked peanut butter cookies, and wondering if she should leave some for Pop.

Soon it was lunchtime and Sophie’s pet peeve became apparent when she began spooning through the broth and noodles looking for the chicken.

“How many chicken do I have? I don’t see any chicken.”

We both spooned through her soup.

“There’s a piece. Look, there’s another piece. Would you like more?”  Noodles swam out of the way as I scooped chicken from my bowl.

Satisfied, she cautiously checked the hotness of the soup and began to eat.

“Try your grilled cheese sandwich.”

“I don’t like grilled cheese.”

“Oh dear, that’s too bad. I made it with love.”

Sophie eyed her sandwich and then looked at me. She took a bite and exclaimed, “I can taste the love.”

Later, as Sophie and I chatted, she told me that when she gets big she wants to help people.

“Would you like to be a teacher?”

“No, teachers read books.”

“You like to read.”

“Yes, but I don’t want to be a teacher.”

She leaned closer and lowered her voice, “I really want to be a super hero.”

“What do super heroes do?”

“Fix things.”

“Oh.” I took a moment to digest this.

“I want to wear a cape and fly.” By now, we were eye to eye in a serious confidence.

“I really just want to fly.”

Reluctant to spoil her dreams, but fearful that she might jump off something high in an attempt to try her wings, I responded, “People don’t really fly. It’s pretend.”

“It’s pretend?”  Her expression ranged from alarm to disappointment.

“Yes,” I admitted. She could not have looked more devastated if I had told her there was no Santa. I felt terrible. “But Sophie, maybe someday you could fly an airplane.”

“No, I want to fly out of an airplane.”

Uncomfortable with her desire to fly, I dismissed the thought of explaining sky diving. This past summer, during a visit to the lake, she dove under the water. She related to me that she thought she could swim after watching the other swimmers. Just move your arms and legs. She was convinced she would have succeeded if a flotation device had not blocked her way to the surface. No, I could not encourage her to fly.

Her eyes locked on mine for a moment. Speaking in a tone one might use with a child, she explained, “Nana, you put your arms out and fly.” She breezed out of the room and up the hallway, her three blonde ponytails bobbing, before returning to our conversation and me.

“No, not airplanes, Nana. I like helicopters. But, they’re scary.” Her voice faded.

Her excitement and enthusiasm diminished, she turned away, disheartened. She scooped Pooh Bear from the floor and with Blankie securely in her clutches, she settled back on the couch.

I recalled a conversation with her father at this age. He told me he wanted to be a fireman.

“Why?”  I asked

“I want to pull the hose.”

Life was simple back then.

One comment

  1. Dave Wise

    Hi Phyllis, Cute story, I’ve had a few of those conversations with my granddaughter. She is four years old. Once I called her a “baby”, she said:”Grandpa, I’m not a baby I’m a TODDLER!
    Writer Dave

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