A Star, and a Story for A Star

There is a bright, shining star amongst the annoyances of late. That star is Isaac. After a week of super-duper-model behavior the following week, he was honored as a Star Student of the Week at his school for this week.  Mummy's so proud!

A letter came home that highlighted things that were going to happen each day. Monday was a sharing sack - he brought in artwork he made over the summer and I mentioned his family tree project from Satori in Tucson, and he snagged it immediately. Tuesday was his favorite picture book. When I saw his choice, Cats, Tiny Tigers in Your House, I arched an eyebrow and asked, "Is that really your favorite picture book?" Apparently it is. Wednesday was a family letter. There were some suggestions (thank the universe - suggestions are the flint to my steel!): A special or funny story about your child; A silly or serious poem; Share some neat things about him they might not know; Write a short story with your child as the main character. Guess which one I chose..

Since I thrive under a deadline, naturally I waited until Tuesday night to start. The morning routine around here can be chaotic and amusing, and the cats add another dimension. That was my building block. As I wrote beyond breakfast, I realized that by iterating Isaac's morning routine I may unknowingly shine a light on something that he wouldn't like - and it would be kinda boring to the kids. So I took some inspiration from none other than Bill Watterson - Isaac reads the Calvin and Hobbes collection with his breakfast every morning. (Below is the polished version of Isaac's story)

I completed the intro Tuesday night then hit a stumbling block. I was tired and made an executive decision to arise extra early to finish. When I rolled out of bed at 4:45, I figured I would have enough time to bang it out, do a workout, etc... I used all the time to complete the story, but didn't get to edit it! I was horrified by the condition with which I had to let it go. I printed it off and handed it to Isaac to read. Within in a minute I heard the best sound in the world - his laughter. He printed off another copy to share with his friends on the bus. After school he said his class loved it. His teacher said the same thing in an e-mail response to me. I e-mailed her apologizing for the state of the story and to ask for a blank map (Isaac didn't do well on a Southeast USA Map test and I wanted a copy sent home for him to repeat until he gets it correct) and she said, "The store was AWESOME! The kids LOVED it!!" Praise from on high.

Thursday was "Invite Your Parent To Lunch" day. The bright celestial object requested a BLT for lunch. So I stopped at a local market/deli for said sandwich and some fries. Being the only adult that wasn't an employee was interesting. I recognized a few kids and said hi, a few others stared at me as though I were an alien. Shiloh, having completely recovered from her flu the night before, was also making the kids laugh with her antics.

On Friday, Isaac's classmates gave him a star, on which they had written something special about him. He said, "I got lots of 'You're cool.' and 'You're funny.'"

The best part about Isaac's great week was the boost it gave me. It's amazing - a child's ability to drag your head out of your own ass so you can see that the world doesn't always stink.

He awakens from his slumber, twisted in his covers and a warm weight on his lower back. He lifts his head and opens his eyes – the world is fuzzy and blurry. He moves and the warm weight stands – four tiny feet press down on his spine.
            “Down, Prynne!”
            “Meoooooooow.” The cat doesn’t move.
            He wiggles his butt and the cat leaps to the side. He puts his glasses on, which brings the world more into focus, then kicks the covers and cat aside. He shimmies down his bed ladder, wings open his dresser drawers, throws on some clothes then clomps downstairs. He’s greeted by Mom’s thumping and panting from the den as she exercises.
He shuffles to the kitchen for cereal and mutters, “Why can’t I have a quiet breakfast?”
He grabs the Frosted Mini Wheats, milk, a bowl and spoon and puts them on the table. He creeps into the den, grateful the bookcase is directly to the right. He stays back so Mom doesn’t nail him with one of those huge dumbbells, hauls the heavy, Calvin and Hobbes collection off of the bottom shelf then scurries back to the dining room. The book slips from his grasp and slams loudly onto the table.
“Don’t slam!” Mom bellows.
“It was an accident!”
“Sure. Don’t forget to do your chores!”
“Yeah, yeah…”
He flips the book open, pours his cereal and milk then digs in. He nearly snarfs the milk at the parade of choking snowmen lined up outside Calvin’s house, then in the next frame Calvin’s mother saying stewed monkey heads were for dinner. A fuzzy, black-and-white body flings herself onto the table then saunters across the book and shoves her purring face into his cereal bowl. Her bushy, swishing tail tickles his nose.
“Get down!”
He pushes her, she flies through the air then lands softly and meanders away.
“Isaac, your chores!”
“You already told me! Jeez!” Then to himself he says, “I wish I had a duplicator, like Calvin.”
He clears the table and brings the book back to into the den, ducking a flying dumbbell as he shoves it back onto the bookshelf. He clomps back to his room for socks and freezes. A huge cardboard box with the word “duplicator” scrawled in black letters is smack in the middle of his floor.
“Isaac can you check on your sister, too?”
He remains frozen, staring at the box, unable to believe his eyes.
“Go on! Try it!”
His head jerks up towards his bed then his mouth gapes open. His Perry the Platypus doll is staring down at him. Waving!
“Try it!” Perry says again.
“How many should I become?”
“How many chores do you have?”
“Hmmmm. Dishwasher, feed the cats, clean my room, take the garbage out and get Shiloh. Five.”
“Do you want to do any of them?”
“Then make five and you won’t have to do a thing.”
Isaac turns the dial to five and steps inside. A burst of bright, white light fills the inside and the box shakes and rattles. A ray zips down his body five times – each time a shadow walks off his body and out of the other end of the box. The light disappears and the box stills. He dashes out and howls at the five identical bodies lined up, waiting for his commands.
“What’s so funny, Isaac?!” Mom yells.
He points to the one on the left and moves on the down the line. “You do the dishwasher. You get Shiloh’s clothes out for her. You clean this room. You feed the cats. You take out the garbage.”
The Isaacs say nothing, and except for the one supposed to clean his room, they all turn at once and march out of his bedroom.
“Awesome!” cheers Perry from his perch on Isaac’s loft bed.
“Totally! Now I can relax before going to school and Mom will never know I didn’t do any of my chores.”
The Isaac cleaning his room opens one of his dresser drawers and starts shoving dirty clothes, markers, books – everything in.
“Hey! That’s not where all those go!”
“ISAAC! You don’t dump the entire basket of silverware into the drawer! What’s wrong with you? And what are you doing with the garbage can?!” Mom hollers from downstairs.
“Izzzaaaac!! Doooon’t!” Shiloh whines from her room.
“Isaac! You stop when the cat food dish is full, don’t keep pouring it all over the floor. Wait…. Why are there three of you?! What’s going on?!!”
Isaac’s heart starts thudding like a jackhammer as he tries to think of what to do. First he bolts to Shiloh’s room. That duplicate is flinging clothes out of her dresser onto the floor. Shiloh is standing in her crib, staring.
“Isaac, STOOOOOOP!” Then she jerks her head to him. “There’s two of you?”
“Yes, Shiloh. Hey! Stop that! Get back into my room!”
The duplicate stops flinging the clothes, then trudges, zombie-like, back to Isaac’s room. He thunders down the stairs and into the dining room, where Mom stands frozen and looks like her head is going to explode, while his duplicates destroy the kitchen. She pins a furious glare on him. “What did you do?!”
“I’ll take care of it!” Then he yells to the three. “Stop! Go back to my room.”
The duplicates drop their chores. The garbage can topples and the trash spills onto the floor. The silverware basket bounces out of the drawer and the plastic cat-food dispenser crashes to the floor – kibbles scatter out from a brown mound of dry cat food. The cats scurry forth and dive into the pile of food and start chomping.
The Isaacs march upstairs with original Isaac at the rear.
“You realize that you have much bigger messes to deal with now?” Mom scolds as she follows them up.
Mom goes into Shiloh’s room. Isaac rounds up the duplicates and closes his door. He stares at them, flummoxed. “How could you guys mess everything up? What am I going to do?”
They stare dumbly and say nothing as he paces back and forth. He circles the duplicator and pauses on the other side. A dial marked “ERASER” catches his eye. He flips it and the box starts shaking and, like a vacuum, sucks up each duplicate one at a time. Then it collapses and implodes, leaving nothing but a black smudge on his floor.
Then there’s a whisper inside his head. “Isaac. It’s time to get up.”
Everything disappears. His face is buried in his pillow, covers tangled around his legs and a warm weight on the small of his back. Mom is standing there.
“Time to get up! You need to get move and take care of you chores. Come on.” She kisses him on the cheek and leaves.
Isaac sighs with relief. It was only a dream. He bumps Prynne off his back and grabs his glasses. He glances at the foot of his bed,  where Perry is tucked into the corner and smiles. Perry winks back.


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