| Sidekick |

The Three Wishes: A Contemporary Fairy Tale

The genie looked surprised. “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind”

Once upon a time, in a local land, there lived a prince. He was my prince, he was two years old, and he ruled our castle with an iron hand.

Having been blessed with a new baby sister, he, too, insisted on drinking milk from a bottle, and he was very specific about which bottle it would be. And it was bedtime, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. (My husband has the distinct privilege of being out all day with other sane adults and wasn’t available to rescue this damsel in distress.)

Finally, I located it. Under the couch. It was full of green stuff.

I expected it to smell when I opened it, but instead, the haze of green stuff floated out of the bottle and hovered in the air. It twinkled, shimmered, and coalesced into a glittering green genie who stretched, rubbed his eyes, and rumbled, “Thank you for letting me out of that bottle.”

I stared at the genie. I really need to get more sleep.

The genie bowed. “As a sign of my gratitude,” he continued, “I will grant you three wishes. The boundaries of time and space are no limitation. Name your heart’s desire!”

I blinked. “I can ask for anything?”

He hesitated. “Well, almost anything. There’s one exception — one wish I can’t fulfill.”

That was still pretty good odds. “Okay,” I said. “For my first wish, I want to go out to night seder and Maariv.” I paused and added, “Every night.”

The genie looked surprised. “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”

“Is that the wish you can’t fulfill?”

“No, but—”

“Great. For my next wish, I want to come home.”

“But you are home,” the genie reasoned.

“Right, but I don’t want to be home. I want to come home, at the end of a long, challenging but satisfying day. To a hot meal, freshly bathed kids, and a cheerful wife.”

“Does such a thing even exist?”

“The hot meal and freshly bathed kids, definitely.”

The genie took out a crumpled piece of paper that looked suspiciously like my hosiery store receipt and scribbled something on the back.

“I’m going to need that receipt back,” I informed him. “I need to exchange Shprintzi’s tights, whenever I can find the time.”

“Is that your third wish?”

“No! I mean, yes. My third wish is that I want an extra hour.”

A look of relief crossed his green face. “That sounds reasonable,” he said. “As a fully licensed and insured genie, I specialize in altering the limitations of the universe. So when do you want this extra hour?”

“Well,” I said, “Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I want the extra hour between three and four a.m., when most of the kids are sleeping. On Thursdays, I want it between ten and eleven p.m., when I’m cooking.” I checked to make sure he was following. “On Fridays, I want it before chatzos, and on Shabbos I want it smack in middle of the afternoon, when my husband is watching the kids so I can rest.”

His face looked a little green.

“Um, maybe you should write this down,” I suggested.

He looked insulted. “You skipped Sunday,” he said, like he felt the need to prove that he really did have it all together. I could relate to that.

“I definitely do NOT want to add an extra hour to Sunday,” I said loudly. “In fact, I would prefer to skip the entire Sunday altogether.” A thought occurred to me. “Actually, can we save up all those Sundays and put them in the week before Pesach?”

He nodded and made a note on the receipt. “Granted!”

Now I was impatient. “When will I get my wishes?”

He thought for a moment. “By the end of this week. Two days if you have Prime.”

“I’m just curious,” I asked the genie. “What’s the one wish you can’t fulfill?”

He looked at me sorrowfully. “It’s the most common wish I get. The true wish of every Jewish woman — but it’s beyond my powers.”

“What is it?”

He lowered his voice. “Reliable cleaning help,” he whispered.

Well, I hadn’t even dreamed that such a thing could exist. But that gave me an idea.

“Can I wish for extra wishes? Because then I would wish that all my kids would get the flu.”

The genie looked surprised. “Are you sure?”

“I mean, if they’re anyway going to get the flu, they should all get it at the same time, instead of one by one on consecutive weeks.”

“I sympathize,” said the genie, “but that would be a fourth wish, and you only get three.”

Well, maybe my husband could use that as one of his three wishes. And maybe he could ask for garbage bags that don’t leak, too. And a golden harp! But he was at night seder and Maariv. I’d better catch this genie before he got away.

The kitchen was starting to feel warm. Come to think of it, I was starting to feel warm. Freezing-cold type of warm. And at that moment, a row of princes and princesses trailed into the room, coughing, sniffling, and shivering. I took one look at their glassy eyes and reached out to touch their royal foreheads.


I’d barely started measuring Motrin when the king himself appeared.

“I think I’m coming down with something,” he announced.

“Night seder. Maariv,” I said hoarsely. My tongue was parched. I turned to the genie, who was rolling my hosiery store receipt between his fingers. “Flu?” I asked. “Didn’t you say…”

But the genie was already vanishing, his voice taking on a far-away quality as he twinkled and faded slowly into thin air. “I’m sorry,” he called to me, his voice echoing as it twisted through the limitations of space and time, “but there’s just no putting a genie back in the bottle.”


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 779)

Oops! We could not locate your form.