“WOW Obgectives”

My son is 10. He’s a typical younger brother in that his favorite pastime is to torture his older brother. When he’s not doing that – in the moments between putting on pajamas and actually sleeping – he writes. It’s a nightly ritual.

A stack of notebooks dating back to 2009 tower precariously on the floor beside his bed. Every now and then, he’ll pull one from the bottom of the pile and give it to me to use. (I like scrap paper on my desk at all times, and his old notebooks invariably have oodles of empty pages.)

Today, when he handed me an ordinary Top Flight composition notebook, I expected more of his old to-do lists, short stories, abandoned letters to Santa or pencil drawings.

Instead, page one was adorned with this:

Forget the misspelling.The rest of the page includes a list of ways he plans to be awesome. It’s his personal list of things that would make every day a “WOW” for him.

1. Level up!

2. Meet other awesome people!

3. Be alive!

4. It’s my world!

The page also includes the typical must-haves. A bucket of slime, lizards, zombie action figures and a pet iguana. On the back, he jotted down his “priorities” for the year. This is an old notebook, and therefore an old list. I’d guess he was about seven when he wrote it.

So here’s the point. My f*cking seven (7!) year old wrote a list of things that will make him sit back and say “WOW”. Granted, he’s nowhere near mature enough to take those concrete ideas and plot out specific steps. But if he can write down what will make him happy, why can’t we? Why do we stop short of saying – of labeling, declaring to the universe – what we want?

Mostly, because we’re afraid. That we don’t deserve it. That it will never happen. That we’re setting ourselves up for failure. But at age seven, my son didn’t know much about being afraid of finding happiness. (And now that he’s 10, I suspect he still doesn’t.)

So here’s my message: Channel my 10 year old. Use your awesome pen or your awesome keyboard or your awesome brain and make your awesome self sit back and “WOW.” Because you totally can.