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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Star Student

Every day we watch the little "Life Force of Happiness" that is Parker Pearson run to the door and then stand in line as the rest of those tiny people wait to get the OK to go into the school. They march in as if a drill sergeant is barking at them.

Eventually, the back of my daughter's head disappears into a sea of pictures of "Dora the Explorer", Princess Anna and Queen Elsa, and Butterflies on the backs of backpacks. (Or would that actually be the FRONT of the backpack? Now back to our story)

However, this day is different. Presidential Elections do not get the buildup that Parker gave Star Student Day. Every kid in her class gets his or her own day. We got to hear about it for, well, basically every day since the world's last major event, Parker's birthday.

There was a poster to be made of All Things Parker Pearson. It involved photographs, glue, markers, two efforts at drawing a stethoscope and on the highest end of presentation...Parker coloring each letter of her name in, get this, a different color! (This would have been something that the shallow, single John Pearson would have seen as a down side of parenting but to this guy, it was kind of cool to see it come together.)

From there, Parker was allowed to bring her favorite book and some toys to show off. None of these toys actually seemed to be anything she plays with regularly but they fit in the bag so we did not argue.

As for the favorite book, since I was the one who would get to read to the class, I was kind of hoping for "Little Blue Truck Leads the Way" or "I Love You, Stinky Face" but Parker went with "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star". It is basically the lyrics to the song. I had no idea there are like eight verses to that thing! Plus, all would have been concerned that it is nearly impossible to read that book and not start singing the song.

So, with all the preparation we wondered how this five year old would respond to sitting on a chair in front of 24 sets of eyes and two teachers.

Sitting a couple feet away as Parker sat on The Star Chair, I looked and saw a little clenching of her teeth, a glance left then right. Then came the 7895th time that this Forty Pounds of Sweetness made me feel pride that started in my toes and burst out of my ears.

As her two year old brother found the bounty of having the other side of the room to himself, including all the trains and cars he could have dreamed of seeing, Parker went step-by-step through every picture.

"That's just me."

"That's my grandma and grandpa"

"That's my Daddy and me playing in the snow"

I know these seem simple but watching her as the other kids sat on the carpet with their eyes fixed on Parker brought that salty discharge to the sides of each of my eyes. (Okay, there was that one kid who kind of kicked the boy in front of him and was not listening but there has to be one in every crowd!)

As she pointed at her favorite things, here came the curve ball. She had a picture of Olaf the Snow Man from "Frozen" on the poster but lest you think that she was going the easy way and saying that movie was her favorite thing, not this girl! "Playing in the snow is my favorite thing to do." That's right. If they thought they had this five-year old figured out, nope! She zigged when they thought she would zag!

(Okay, I am overselling but the amazement at Parker's performance is only outdone by how exciting I find all of this.)

She even did a little comedy bit. Her favorite food is watermelon and she knew that Ms. French, the teaching assistant, hates watermelon. So, the sheer glee in Parker's face when she said, "Watermelon" and got the whole room to look at Ms. French made me think that all of my efforts at imparting the ways of comedy were not wasted.

Of course, then she pulled out the toys from the bag, again, none of which she actually plays with very often but she still owned the room. Yes, we all believe that our child is the most amazing human ever but I just happen to be right.

Then, the pressure was on. Parker, in her most adorable voice said, "My Daddy is really good at reading. This is 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'. It's my favorite."

Now, I felt actual pressure. I had spoken to hundreds, even thousands at a time but, what if I screwed this up?  Those tiny eyes were looking into my soul but Parker gave me a look that, even with the lump in my throat at how proud I was seemed to say, "You can do it, Daddy."

I was able to plow through the seemingly endless verses and find out that the book was actually about the sheer joy someone can have if you just believe in someone else. This Star Student thing truly fit our relationship.

Parker gave that feeling right back to me.

It was time to turn it back over to the Star Student. The teacher said, "It's time for you to ask Parker questions."

Five-year-olds are limited to, "What's your favorite....(insert food or activity here)?"  Here are some of Parker's answers:

"Ariel. Oh, and Cinderella"
"Playing in the snow"
"The one I went to with my cousins"

There were more but one question stood out that Parker is either going to be a politician or simply cares about, well, everyone. A boy put her on the spot:  "Who is your favorite friend?"

Parker looked at a little girl in the front row. "Leila. And Katrina. And Lucia. And Nyiana. And Tessa....." She ran down the entire female population of K-4 and was just about to get to Liam G. and Liam W. and Juan and all the boys when the teacher thought that school got out in an hour and a half so they needed to end it.

From there, everyone got to go and draw a picture for Parker and write (or have the teacher's assistant help them write what makes Parker "A Star".)

It was pure and lovely and wonderful and just the type of thing I would have probably rolled my eyes at hearing about back when I thought I was cool.

First of all, looking at old pictures, I was never cool. Luckily, Parker never needs to know that.

It was time for us to go so she could go back to being with her friends. She looked at my wife and me and said, "Thank you so much for coming to my Star Student Day."

This tiny blonde person just allowed me to be a part of the coolest thing ever.

That's what a Star does.

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