The Perfect Gift

I always thought my father was a mind reader.

He would buy me the perfect gift every time. It was always exactly what I wanted.

He knew that I did not like playing with dolls. They looked strangely inhuman with their perfect faces and perfect hair. That wasn't how real people looked. Unless they painted their faces of course.


I did not like the toys boys played with either. They carried weapons that would save the world. Destroying most of it in the process. I wondered what the difference between a hero and villain was.

My father bought me a construction set. "Build a better world," he told me. How did he know I liked building things?


As I grew older, he bought me things that nurtured this passion in me. Was he encouraging me to follow my dreams? Or inspiring me with his? My mother showed me an old chest with my father's toys from his childhood. I saw a construction set inside.


My father turned 65 this year. He was going to retire on his birthday. I didn't have to read his mind to know what he wanted.

I drove him to the construction site. I had recently quit my job to join an organization that built schools for underprivileged children. I walked with my father to the place where the school would come up and handed him a brick.

"Let's build a better world," I said.