Choose Your Wish Wisely


Out of a dust-covered bottle a Genie appears. His commanding voice booms as he simply says, “I will grant you three wishes.”


What would you wish for?

• Wealth?
• Power?
• Celebrity-status?
• Three more wishes?
• A pony?

Out of all the endless possibilities, I would bet my three wishes that you would never wish to equal the playing field.


In Rules by Cynthia Lord, twelve-year-old Catherine merely wishes that “everyone had the same chances” (Lord 190). Personally, I have never given much thought to particular advantages in the human race outside of talents like music, sports, and art. Yet, as a young teenager, this thought has crossed Catherine’s mind over and over again. Why would any teen repeatedly wish that everyone had the same chances?



Let’s investigate Catherine’s motives for her peculiar wish.

As a typical tween, Catherine enjoys drawing, swimming, and caring for her Guinea pigs. Yet, her situation becomes atypical when her younger brother, David, enters the scene. From the outside, David is as average as his sister; he enjoys pestering Catherine, visiting the video store, and following rules. But he is far from the norm. David is autistic.

Eight-year-old David struggles with everything from daily activities to understanding social norms. In order to compensate for his oddities, and to prevent herself from becoming further embarrassed, Catherine devises rules for David to follow:

“You can yell on the playground, but not during dinner. A boy can take off his shirt to swim, but not his shorts. It’s fine to huge Mom, but not the clerk at the video store” (Lord 10).

Despite the clear rules, David still manages to embarrass Catherine. Because of this, Catherine imagines a Utopian world in which people like David simply receive a fair shot at life.

No disadvantages.

No disabilities.

From the eyes of an older sister with an autistic brother, equaling the playing field sounds like heaven. After Catherine silently wishes for everyone to have the same chances, out of curiosity, she asks David what he would wish for. David simply answers:

“‘Grape soda’” (Lord 190).

When David tells Catherine this, she understands that she will never have an average brother. Her brother will be forever autistic. But she begins to realize that it’s okay to be different. David will continue to put toys in the fish tank. He will continue to enter her room without knocking first. He will continue to embarrass her. But David will always be her brother…

The Genie quickly becomes impatient with your silence. Once again he reiterates, “I will grant you three wishes!”

Choose wisely.

Lord, Cynthia. Rules. New York: Scholastic Inc., 2006. Print.