Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Star Is Born

Move over, Honey Boo Boo. There's a new girl commanding the stage today, thanks to science, speeders and show and tell.

 My 5-year-old niece has two older brothers, and is constantly trying to be heard. She can speak loudly and clearly, and articulates her ideas well. She'll tug on your shirt, yell your name when you're in the middle of a conversation, and tap your arm relentlessly until you stop what you're doing to listen. She is not shy, and she is never at a loss for words. It's getting an audience that seems to be her biggest struggle.

But all that changed when Kate entered kindergarten this fall and discovered the wonder of show-and-tell. Apparently, once she understood how the whole thing was going to work, she knew she had found her calling. Now all she needed was the show.

Living alongside a nature preserve, Kate is used to seeing deer running around in the back yard. But when one was hit by a car outside her house, the journalist in her seemed to take over. Or maybe it was just the macabre. Either way, after the accident, Kate insisted on going out with her mom for a closer look.

The investigation turned up a piece of antler, a bloody leaf and a part of the car that had hit the poor animal. She also checked on where the deer had ended up (it ran into the woods), and confirmed its subsequent demise. Now she was ready for her close-up.

Her mom, however, wasn't too sure her kindergarten class was ready for such graphics. A teacher herself, my sister-in-law pictured seashell collections, pretty feathers and fossils found during summer vacations that the other students would be showcasing. She was wary to let Kate horrify her classmates with her breaking news story.

But when they ran into the teacher at the grocery store, Kate laid it on the line and asked if it would be OK. The teacher gave her the green light.

The other night, I got to hear Kate tell me about how her first show-and-tell session went. She relayed the whole incident very matter-of-factly, like a polished television news broadcaster, describing the leaf, the antler, the car part and her detailed story of how the whole thing happened right outside her house, just as she had told her class.

"Did anyone ask you questions after you were done?" I said to her, picturing a classroom of stunned (and possibly sobbing) five-year-olds, feeling like they had accidentally stumbled onto a late night news channel and had their innocence shattered forever by my sweet little niece.

"Yeah, but we're only allowed to answer three," she said confidently.

"Oh, did you have more than three?" I asked.

"Yes, but a bunch of people asked the same questions, so I got to answer extras too."

When I asked her if the teacher asked any questions, she said yes, but couldn't remember what they were. Clearly, she already knew how to shut down the pushy paparazzi when she needed to.

"Did anyone ask for your autograph when you were done?" I said when she was through with her story.

She looked at me kind of funny and shook her head 'no'. But as she headed back to her seat, she had a thoughtful look on her face, and I can only imagine that she was trying to figure out *why* no one had asked for her autograph, and what she could do differently next time to make sure they would.