My father popped into my bedroom before he left for work one morning. It was still dark outside.
“I’ll bring you a present. What would you like?” he asked.
“Toy soldiers,” was my sleepy reply.
I had in my mind those straight and tall tin men with their red coats and shiny black shoes and tall black hats with a gun slung over their shoulder, ready to march.
I could see the doubt in his eyes.
What the hell did a little girl want with toy soldiers anyway?
I could not tell him why.
It was a secret.
They were strong and silent and brave and protected you. I wanted someone to protect me. AND in The Nutcracker one came alive and defeated the mouse king and took the little girl away to a magical kingdom…
All day the excitement built. I could not wait from him to get home that night. He had never brought me a present before.
This was going to be so amazing!
When he finally arrived, my father proudly presented to me a bag of green plastic army men. Some were crawling on the ground. Some were kneeling with a bazooka at the ready. Some were aiming their machine guns at the unseen enemy.
Not what I had envisioned at all.
I was crushed.
I had not realized that there was more than one kind of toy soldier. The proverbial wish gone awry.
Be careful what you wish for.
In fact, it was the allegory for life itself… nothing ever quite ends up the way you imagined it. Ever. Sometimes it is better. Often it is worse.
Much, much worse.
My father was not at fault. I knew this. I had not been specific. I had not contemplated and addressed all of the possible permutations. I only had myself to blame.
I should have known!
I fought back the hot tears and the lump in my throat, pretending to play with and thoroughly enjoy my soldiers so I would not hurt his feelings. Maybe if I made him feel loved and appreciated enough, someday soon he would want to bring me something else? Then, by golly, I would be much more specific.
He never did. My one chance at magic, wasted. Damn it.