I won my six-figure deal last week.
My contract signed inside my daughter’s preschool classroom of all places. Her teacher asked if I would participate in Read Across America week, and I agreed. It was a tough crowd; preschoolers know what they want and when they want it. Straight shooters, these preschoolers. Rougher and more critical than any literary agent or editor I’ve come across.
I settled into a rocking chair set solely for this purpose. Looking up, I saw their tiny faces scrunched before me. Scrutinizing. My daughter’s included. Interested neither in adjectives nor metaphors, sentence structure as useless to them as a wrapper with no candy hidden inside, they waited. Give them what they desire; magic! And you had better deliver in its telling…
Carefully and reverently, I opened the tome upon my lap. “You can think up some birds…” I began, my mouth dreadfully parched, fingers trembling upon the book’s gleaming surface.
“Excuse me, where’s your hair?”
Along my brow broke a bead of sweat. My eyes flicked away from the tale for a moment; trepidation mounting. Confidence shaken. I tremulously stumbled, “Umm…that’s what you can do. You can think about yellow or think about—”
“Athena’s daddy, I asked where’s your hair?”
All eyes…all narrowed, measuring eyes…upon me. Did I mention they were a tough crowd? I reached into my back pocket, pulled forth my last vestige of hope then extended a sealed fist to my diminutive blond heckler. “Take this,” I croaked, engulfing his open palm. “It’s my last hair seed. Grow this for me so one day I can plant it back on my head.”
Silence. What had I done? Awful, black tombed silence. Time stood still. Then an eruption of unearthly shrieks. Earsplitting giggles. Tiny bodies jumping in delirium. My daughter beaming.
Give them what they desire.
“Think! Think and wonder. Wonder and think,” I proclaimed, nailing each verse to perfection, my inflection as never before. Enchanting the room. “How much water can fifty-five elephants drink?”
Magic. It had better be in the telling.
I finished my book reading, ears humming to the roar of joyous children. My goddess rushed to me and wrapped her arms around my neck. “Thank you for reading to us, Daddy.”
I won my six-figure deal last week. Signed and sealed forever in my heart.