When I grow up I want to be a bicycle
I want to whoosh down hills and sweep through fields
of fragrant flowers sparkling in the morning dew
I want birds of every color to race with me
and sing me their joyful songs
I want the afternoon sun to warm my shiny red frame
as I crunch through leaves and splash through puddles
I want to ring my bell and watch the squirrels scamper,
their tails in the shape of a question mark
I want to glide through the park at dusk and listen
to the crickets as they begin their evening refrains
I want to sail through a sea of fireflies
and marvel at their heavenly glow
I want the peace of the night to envelop me
and the cool damp air to squeeze through my spokes
I want the moon and the Big Dipper to guide me
as my white lantern lights my way home
When my daughter was seven years old, she and I were on our way home from a children’s museum, where we had attended a St. Patrick’s Day story-telling hour about a leprechaun who does good deeds.
As we walked down the street, a man accidentally dropped some change on the sidewalk, and my daughter bent down to pick up a quarter for him. He thanked her kindheartedly and told her to keep it.
She held this special quarter on the bus all the way down to the train station. When she saw a number of people standing in the cold, asking for change, she decided to give her quarter to one of them. As she was about to drop it into one man’s cup, he said to her, “Thank you very much, but I don’t take money from children. You keep it for yourself.” I reached into my purse instead, feeling that no matter how much I gave him, this deed would be small compared to his.
Inside the station, my daughter soon found another needy person to give her precious quarter to. He thanked her with a smile and a “Bless you.” I told her how proud I was of her.
Ten minutes later we boarded our train, and my daughter walked over to a seat near the door. On this seat, in plain view of everyone who had just filed past it, was a shiny quarter, waiting for her.
I guess the leprechaun in the story didn’t care that we weren’t even Irish.
The front door of the bus I was riding on opened, and when a small child reached the top step, she suddenly started wailing, “No, no!” Her mother quickly paid the fare, picked her up, and carried the now screaming, kicking little girl to an empty row of seats about mid-way back.
What had apparently terrified the three-year-old was a massive German shepherd guide dog sprawled under the front seat occupied by its owner, its head and forepaws sticking out into the aisle.
With her daughter whimpering and clinging to her, the mother said soothingly, “I know you’re afraid of big dogs, but of all the dogs in the world, this is not one to be afraid of. This is a very special dog who helps that man because he’s blind and can’t see. It’s a very gentle and good dog and wouldn’t hurt you.”
The child evidently was not convinced of the shepherd’s harmlessness and told her mother that she wanted to leave the bus through the back door. The mother agreed and then continued, “Do you know that this dog goes to school to learn how to help people?” With that, the girl’s eyes opened wide, and she asked, incredulously, “With other dogs?” The mother explained the kinds of tasks that these amazing animals learn, and in those moments, the child’s demeanor utterly transformed. Wiping away her tears, she began to take sneak peeks around the seat in front of her at the shepherd, which was resting peacefully in the same place as before.
When the man and his canine guide got off a few stops later, the child seemed disappointed rather than relieved, and she continued asking her mother questions. Then when it was time for them to get off, mother and daughter exited via the rear door, both laughing at the idea of a dog going to school.