We are taught when we are little that what only really matters is how much money we make. That's why most of get asked: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" They really didn't care what your ignorant little fingers splurged out, it just mattered that you had some sort of aspiration no matter how pointless it was. It just mattered that maybe it wasn't pointless to teach you. So when the smallest child in my second grade class had responded with a scraggly "Sparrow", eyes turned and eyebrows furrowed. "You have to be realistic," our teacher said, and that little boy (whose name is out of my mind's grasp) responded with a strong 'It is'.
"You can't turn into a sparrow though. Don't you want to be an actor or musician? Choose a career or lifestyle," our teacher said persistent to drain the dreams from him.
"My mommy said that we can be anything, though. She said that to me before she closed her eyes and turned into a sparrow. I saw it, she closed her eyes and a sparrow flew out from the tree. I want to be a sparrow, so I can be with mommy," the boy said with a straight face "She hasn't woken up, so I think she's still a sparrow and doesn't know how to turn back into a mommy again," and of course there was no way for our teacher to respond, so she left the boy to draw sparrows and mommies on his paper.
I haven't thought about that day for years until I flipped through an old notebook I had in second grade. I found a drawing in there of two sparrows on a half crumpled paper, and I remembered that the boy had drawn one. I said to him that I couldn't draw once I saw his paper, and he told me that it was easy (and to this day I still know that drawing will never be easy). One was neat and directed, while the other was squiggly and oblong (this of course was mine).
Nothing else was on the paper but a rip in between them that was repaired with Scotch tape. I remember that another boy had ripped it saying that the boy was stupid. The boy was saying he could never be a sparrow, and he should stop being so stupid. I don't quite remember what happened after he did that, but I do remember the other boy being talked to and our teacher taping it back together as we waited separately with antonyms of expressions.
I'd tried to befriend the boy, but he slowly drifted away. He hadn't come to school in maybe four months or so, but when the "parents' night" arrived they had still put up his paper with drawings of sparrows and little boys holding hands with mommies. I glanced at it and silently walked away from my parents to look at it. At that moment as I stood in front of it, a sparrow stood in front of the window behind me. It made a quiet chirp, so I turned around and walked towards it. It stared at me until flying away to another bird waiting idly in a tree without stopping his song of chirps and tweets. I still wonder: "Was the sparrow that little boy? Had he fulfilled his dream before even growing up?"
If the answer to that was yes, then the boy's fate had been sealed. If the answer to that was yes, then another of my questions had been answered, "What happened to the boy?"
The boy made me love to draw and dream. He is the reason I am a dreamer, and me not being able to remember his name is a great injustice. The memory of him I have needs a title. And maybe the way I give it one is remembering him and looking for a sparrow with a mother sparrow when I hear "What do you want to be when you grow up?"