“Star light, star bright, First star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, Have this wish I wish tonight.”
Little N, my fiesty four-year-old, repeats this rhyme with her head tilted toward the night sky. She excitedly makes a wish on the first star she sees. She loudly says, “I wish I could go to the playground and then get ice cream.” She pauses and adds with a side glance “tomorrow.”
I smile and quietly begin to make my simple wish. It’s the same wish I always make. “I wish for my children to be happy and healthy.”
Like a mantra in my head I often repeat the phrase – health and happiness, health and happiness. It’s all I could ever wish for anyone, but especially for my children.
When I repeat this secret wish, I don’t mean it generically. It is not some throw away cliché you say to be polite. It is about so much more.
I want my children to always feel strong and healthy. I want them to love their bodies and jump, run, play and dance. I want them to go on adventures and explore the world using the power of their minds and their bodies. I want them to live long, productive and limitless lives.
Like most parents, I fear the possible dangers that could steal this from my children. The dangers no one has control over — like chronic disease, cancer or mental illness. My 9-year-old son AD lives with allergy and cold-induced Asthma. He also has a severe allergy to Peanuts and Tree Nuts. I get nervous every time we go to a restaurant or house party. My heart palpitates when I read stories of kids accidentally eating something at school or camp. We make accommodations to ensure his safety, but I worry all the time. I couldn’t imagine facing a real debilitating illness.
I never want to focus on the fear, but it is a painful reality for far too many families not to think about.
Every day, 43 children are diagnosed with Cancer. In fact, this is the leading cause of death by disease in children, according to CureSearch.org.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Just over 20 percent (or 1 in 5) children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.”
“Approximately 8 percent of children ages 5 to 17 were reported by their parents to have limited activities due to at least one chronic disease or disability,” according to the National Health Council.
So, I repeat my silent prayer to keep my children healthy. Healthy in mind, body and soul.
While I understand that happiness is relative by nature, my wish for my children is that their success not be defined by their jobs, status in life, or money in their bank accounts. I want my children to create and live fully engaged lives filled with laughter and love — so much love that it lifts and guides them.
I want my children to see the good in themselves as well as in others. I want their experiences to be true and fully realized, which means that while they may experience sadness, disappointment and anger from time-to-time, they will find a way to settle back into a rhythm of peace and happiness.
My dream for my children is to find satisfaction and discover that the path to true happiness is right there in front of them. I want them to understand that HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE and a state of being.
I look at my curly-haired daughter wishing on her star and I continue my perhaps not so simple wish. I take a deep breath and say, “I wish for my children to be happy and healthy… and for a trip to the park with a side of bubble gum flavored ice cream” – just for her.
What do you wish for when you blow out your candles or look at a star?