Thursday, July 21, 2005

Lessons from Children's Television

I was watching an episode of Oswald with my son yesterday when I was struck with a truth about myself. I personally had no idea children's television was so insightful, but it turns out that they teach some very abstract lessons.

Oswald captured a lightning bug in a jar on the premise that he would get one wish upon releasing the lightning bug back into the air. Once he had the "big guy" in the jar, he couldn't think of what he wanted to wish for. He thought about the pros and cons of all the wishes he could possibly wish. He even asked his friends what they would wish for, hoping they would provide some insight and/or guidance. There was, of course, the standard, "I would wish for more wishes." But seeing a lack of honesty in that wish, Oswald continued on his journey to choose a wish.

Oswald was unable to think of a wish and even slept on it, hoping an appropriate wish would come to him the next day. When he woke up, he still didn't know what to wish for. He spent the day looking for just the right wish. He returned to the park where he had captured his lightning bug and was confronted by a group of his friends asking him where all the lightning bugs had gone. "This park used to be filled with lightning bugs, Oswald, where did they all go?"

Oswald suddenly knew what he wanted to wish for. He opened the lid on the jar and wished for the return of all the lighning bugs to the park. Sure enough, as the "big guy" flew up into the twilight sky, all the other lightning bugs returned to the park and everyone was amazed by their beauty.

Now, this story has special meaning for me because my Sam has recently discovered the joy of lightning bugs. At first he was afraid of them and wouldn't even look out the window for fear that the lightning "bees" would get him. But now, we sit in the living room and look out across our backyard and see the lightning bugs dance about. He gets a big smile on his face and says, "Mommy...look at all the lightning bugs...they're beautiful!" We have talked about the magic of lightning bugs and why they light up. We have even talked about making a wish on the first lightning bug you see (never capturing one in a jar).

But beyond the wonder of the lightning bugs themselves, I was struck yesterday by the concept of wishes. I realized that my wishes have changed since I was a child. But my wishes have most dramatically changed since earlier this year. I was so insulated in having my own wish on a lightning bug, that it never even occurred to me that there were others out there making wishes on lightning bugs too. Suddenly, while watching that show yesterday, I knew what I would wish for...and it wasn't what you would expect. Sure, I considered wishing that our Alex could be here with us. But instead, the wish that I truly would wish, is that NO family should have to know this pain. I would wish that this never happen again to anyone. I would wish for a sky full of lightning bugs for everyone I know, and even those I don't know. I would wish that their wishes be only needed for something simple, like a new car or a quiet dinner...that they never have to contemplate using their wish to resurrect their dead child.

Perhaps it's too grandiose a wish and it falls into the dishonest category of wishing for more wishes. But the sky is full of lightning bugs, so I'm going to keep trying until the magic of one of them works. And I'm going to teach my Sam the same thing...with a little help from Oswald.


Anam Cara said...

Catherine - what a lovely post. It makes me wish we had lightning bugs here.

Jill said...

I've never seen a lightening bug either, but I've seen plenty of kids tv and you reminded me of something I saw last week. I shall tell you about it at my blog.

It's funny but I think my wish would be the same as yours.