What do you want to do when you grow up? he asked her.
How could she explain? How could his five-year-old mind grasp what she really wanted to do? Not just write. That sounds so easy. She wants so much more.
I want to inspire children. I want a story I write to be a child’s favorite. I want them to request it at bedtime. And after it’s been read, I want them to beg for it to be read again. I want them to hide under the covers and read it with a flashlight. I want them to bring it to school. I want them to check it out of the library. I want teachers to read it to their students. I want children to act out the parts they like best. I want them to fold down the corners of their favorite pages. I want them to choose it when they are sad or hurt or scared and need to feel better. I want it to bring comfort. I want them to take it with them on road trips and vacations. I want them to read it to their children years after their own parents read it to them. I want them to read it so much it becomes tattered. I want them to give it as a gift to someone they love because it means something to them. I want them to remember it forever.
I want children to read something I write and feel things. I want them to dream. To hope. To laugh. To love. To move. To dance. To sing. To create masterpieces. To help others. To be excited about learning. To feel important. To feel empowered. To feel beautiful in their bodies. To learn about the past and remember it - the good and the bad. To learn about big issues. To come up with ways to make our world better.
He was waiting for her answer. She sighed.
I want to write, she told him. And then.
But what do you want to write? A spark.
Stories for children, she said.
Can you tell me one? he asked.
And in her heart, she knew he understood. At that moment, he understood her dreams more than anyone else she ever told about them. Five years old, yes, but wiser than the rest. He crawled into her lap and played with the corner of a blanket as she began.
Once upon a time...