Outcomes Offered

■ Personal responsibility for attaining goals

■ Personal empowerment

■ Solution-focused strategies

Once there was a girl. Shall we give her a name? What would you like to call her? One day she was taking a walk along a beach. Do you live near a beach or go for summer vacation to a beach? Would you like to set this story on that beach?

This girl was walking along that beach one day, sadly, not feeling very happy. She'd left home to go for a walk because her mom and dad were fighting—again—and she felt she needed to get out. She walked along, her head down, thinking about her troubles, not hearing the call of the seagulls, or swish of the waves lapping the sand. She didn't feel the pleasant warmth of the sun on her skin, or the damp sand under her feet.

As she kicked her way along the beach, her toes suddenly hit something solid. She stopped, bent down, and started to dig the sand away with her hands. What she found was an old lamp, just like those you read about in storybooks—the ones where, if you rub them, a genie pops out and grants you three wishes. This one was old and battered, and had barnacles growing off it like it had been at sea for a long time.

The girl picked off the barnacles and got a handful of wet sand to clean it. Poof! As she rubbed it, out popped a genie.

Now this was not the handsome, muscular genie you see in movies or storybooks, though he did have a turban on his head. Instead, he was old and skinny and looked like he needed to sleep for a week. Nonetheless, the girl's excitement was overwhelming. "Wow! Does this mean I get three wishes?" she asked excitedly.

"Give me a break," said the genie. "I have been shut up in this thing for longer than I can remember. My last master got his three wishes, then tossed me overboard. I had to plug up the hole to stop from drowning, I've suffered with seasickness, and I haven't had a meal in years. I got dumped on this shore and buried in sand, and you want three wishes."

"Oh," said the girl, disappointed. She'd found a genie that not only didn't look like a genie, but was grumpy as well.

"Well, can I at least ask for one wish?" she inquired, remembering the thoughts that had occupied her mind as she walked along the beach.

"Well, you rubbed the lamp, so you are the master," said the genie, "but just one for now."

"I wish," said the girl, "that Mom and Dad would stop fighting."

"Well, that's one wasted wish," said the grumpy genie.

"What do you mean?" asked the girl, feeling shattered.

"You are my master and I can do things to help you change, but I can't go changing other people just to suit you. What they chose is what they do."

The poor girl looked devastated and, seeing her so sad, the genie softened, a little. "Look, here are some tips about making a wish. First, it needs to be something that you can realistically change for yourself, and second, you need to make it something that you want to do rather than something you want someone else to stop doing. I'm not good at stopping wars, famines, or fights. I'm better at helping people create peace, grow more food, and get on better together.

"Anyway, what do I get out of this?" he asked suddenly. "As my master, are you going to look after me? I could do with some food and a warm place to spend the night." Then, with a poof, he disappeared back into the lamp.

Great! Just my luck, thought the girl, who had been feeling pretty unloved and unwanted at home. When, at last, she thought she might have the chance to change things, she gets a grouch of a genie.

Nonetheless, she was a kind-hearted girl who gently carried the lamp home. When her parents were busy arguing over dinner, she scraped some of her meal onto a separate plate that she later took to her bedroom to feed the genie. He devoured it in a hurry but it didn't do anything for his mood. He just demanded more, sending the girl on several missions to the fridge, then demanding that she not disturb him while he had a good night's sleep.

In the morning he was no better. He spat out the cornflakes she gave him and demanded something cooked. That was hard to do without raising her parents' suspicions, but it helped to settle the genie's mood a little. Eventually, he said, "Have you thought about your second wish?"

"Yes," she said, "I want to be happy."

"No good," answered the genie.

The girl looked startled by his brusque response. "What do you mean, now?" she asked.

"Well, I'm only telling you this because you've been kind to me," he said. "How do I know what happiness means to you? If you're making a wish you need to be specific. When you're feeling happier, what do you want to be thinking? What do you want to be feeling? What do you want to be doing that is different from what you're doing now?"

"Well, I don't want to think about Mom and Dad fighting all the time."

"Wrong," said the genie. "Remember yesterday, I told you it is better to make wishes about what you want, than what you don't want. What do you want to be thinking?"

"I want to look forward to coming home after school, to enjoy time with my friends, to think fun thoughts."

"Good, that's getting better," said the genie. "Then how are you going to do them?"

"Wait a minute," said the girl. "Aren't you the genie? Aren't you supposed to make them happen for me?"

"You wait a minute," said the genie in reply. "I've been shut up in that damn lamp for longer than I can remember. I haven't eaten, I've hardly slept, I've been seasick, I've had no friends, and I haven't had a chance to practice my magic. Granting wishes is like anything else. You stop training for a sport and you lose your fitness. You stop studying and you forget what you learned. Ifyou want these things, you have to do a bit of the work yourself.

"Look," he continued, "remember the way you were walking along the beach last night, head down, kicking your toes into the sand, occupied with all your worries? How about next time you walk the beach you lift your head up, look at the colors in the water and sky, see what delights the tide has washed up, listen to the sounds of the waves, feel the sand underneath your feet, paddle your feet in the cool water, and let yourself enjoy the experience of what's happening?

"I hate to admit this, but even genies know there are some things we can't change . . . and some that we can. Our own thoughts, feelings, and actions are among the things that we can change. To do so, you need to practice and practice and practice—just like I need to practice my magic, or soon forget how."

The girl nodded. He might be a grouch, but he was a sensible grouch.

"One more thing," he said. "If you want this wish to happen, then you have to decide when you're going to do the things to make it happen. It isn't any good just sitting around waiting for magic to happen. So, when are you going to do something about it?"

"I'll go for another beach walk this afternoon," she said, "and do what you suggest."

And she did, carrying the genie in his lamp inside her schoolbag as she walked.

That night she fed the genie again and went to sleep thinking, carefully, about what her third wish would be.

The big bowl of porridge she prepared for the genie in the morning was neither good enough nor big enough, so she cooked bacon and eggs, hash browns, and pancakes until his mood seemed a bit better. She waited her time to ask her third wish, thinking she had learned a lot about wishes and should get it right this time.

"I wish that you would stay with me forever and keep granting my wishes."

"Good try," said the genie, and she saw him laugh for the first time. "You can't wish for something you can't have. I can only grant you three wishes, and that is the deal. But ifyou do what you've done already, it will be as good as having me around for the rest of your life. You don't have to be limited to just three wishes. Remember, it's okay to wish. It's okay to look ahead and want things to be better. But what you wish for and what you want needs to be realistic. It needs to be something that you can actually attain. It helps to make it specific, to spell out exactly what you want in the ways that you think, feel, and do things. Then, don't forget to decide when you're going to put them into practice.

"Let me share a trade secret with you: the three magic questions that every genie has to ask himself before he can make a wish come true. He needs to ask:

What do I want to do?

How can I make it happen?

When am I going to do it?"

The girl reached out and gave the grouchy old genie a hug. A softness lightened his eyes, the warmth of a smile flickered in the corners of his mouth, and poof, he disappeared back into his lamp.

0 0

Post a comment