By Zola Brown
Special to The Advertiser
It was Christmas Eve around the world, and in a small brown hale in Wai'anae, a mother and her young son were getting ready for bed.
Illustration by Martha Hernandez The Honolulu Advertiser
It was story time. Before Koa went to bed, his mother, Pualei, let him choose a story for her to read to him.
"What shall I read tonight, my little son?" she asked.
"The Three Wishes," declared Koa, picking one of his favorite stories. Then he asked, "Why three wishes, Mommy? Why not five?" Five was as high as Koa, aged 3 years, could count. That was the largest amount he could imagine.
"I don't know, dear. It's just a story." And she picked him up and set him in her lap and read the book to him, as she had many times before.
He sighed when she closed the book.
"I like that story. Read it again," he demanded.
"Not right now," replied Pualei. "If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?"
"I want five wishes not three!" responded Koa.
"Well, what would you wish for?" asked his mother again.
"I'd wish to be tall ... so tall," answered Koa as he stretched as high as he could. "I'd be so tall I could pick a star out of the sky and give it to you for a present." His mother smiled. "Let's make a star," she said, " and put it high on the tree." Taking some gold wrapping paper, she folded it into a large origami star. Then she held Koa high while he put it on the topmost twig of the Christmas tree.
"What is your second wish, my little son?" she asked.
He waved his arms in the air. "I want to be light ... so light," he answered. "So light I could float with the clouds."
"You are not heavy to me," said his mother and, taking his hands in hers, she spun 'round and 'round in the room till they were both dizzy and laughing.
Breathlessly the mother asked again. "Now what is your third wish, my little boy?"
"I want to be rich ... so rich," he said. "So rich I could buy all the cookies in Tamura's store."
"That's a lot of cookies, my son. You would surely get sick if you ate them all," said his mother.
"Oh, no!" he protested. "I would not eat them all. I would give them away to my friends ... all but five. I would eat five myself."
"Five is not too many to eat," said Pualei. "But if you want to share some cookies with your friends, we can bake some the day before vacation is over. You can help me. Then you can take some to preschool to give to your classmates."
"OK," said Koa. "But remember, I want five for me."
"You have had three wishes now. That's all the little old man got," said his mother.
"But I want five!" protested Koa.
"Well, if you had two more wishes, what would your fourth wish be, my small son?" she asked him.
"I want to be wise ... so wise," he said. "I want to be as wise as Kumu Lani at school. She knows how to tie shoes and how to make poi out of taro and how to make a fish out of a palm leaf and a toy top out of a seed. She knows all about everything."
"Being wise is like building with blocks," responded his mother. "You put one on top of another and soon you have a tower. Kumu Lani has learned much. From her parents, her tutu, from books, from her own kumu and her friends. You, my little boy, are learning and getting wiser every day. And some day you can be as wise as Kumu Lani. So that wish can come true, too, one day."
"You have had four wishes, my little boy. If you had one more wish, what would it be?"
Koa pouted his lips and looked at his mother sternly, "I wish you would not call me your 'little boy' anymore," he said. "I am not a little boy. I am 3 years old. I am a big boy. I go to school, and I can count to five."
His mother gave him a big hug.
"All right, my big boy. You have had your five wishes. Is there anything else you want?"
"Uh huh," nodded Koa. "I want you to read me "The Three Wishes" all over again."
So she did.