I wanted a star on my paper. The star's color didn't really matter, the size didn't matter. I just wanted a star on my paper that said I was one of the smart ones.
But I could never get one. I already knew I was one of the dumb 6 year olds, I just wasn't smart. I knew it. I couldn't read or add. The books were always too hard and directions confused me. If you weren't neat and couldn't follow the directions you didn't get a star. At least not in the first grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Yearning Elementary
I could read numbers though, and I had a theory about my situation. I was certain that the # 2 on the spine of my reader stood for second grade. I hung on to this belief as an explanation for why I couldn't read. It was my secret hope that I wasn't so stupid after all. I was convinced, despite mounting frustration and embarrassment that my problem was caused by a book that was too hard. None of my classmates bought my thinking, but I hung on to the hope that I wasn't really dumb after all.
Finally, one day late in the year, after the longing for a star had given way to hopelessness, it happened. Sister dropped my paper down in front of me.
There it was attached proudly to the top of the page near my name, the green star!
I knew that the best stars were the big golden ones. The next best were blue, still larger than the green star I'd gotten. But my first star seemed huge to me. It was a metallic, shadowed shamrock color. I traced my finger over the thin foil ridge on each of the 5 points. Points of achievement there on 'my page'. I couldn't believe it! I was reeling, flabbergasted, overjoyed,
I'd gotten a star!
I turned proudly to the kid next to me, and shoved the paper under his nose. "I gotta star!" I crowed.
As the words left my mouth a shadow descended. The tall dark habit of Sister blotted out the sunlight. She swept up the paper.
"No Talking!" Sister shrieked in a fury.
Slowly, meticulously, with a pent up frenzy that said this woman longed for a world without loud boastful little boys, Sister meticulously tore my paper into shreds.
As she swept away, Sister dropped the crumpled fragments on my desk. I searched through the remains, but I couldn't find my green star. Now I wouldn't be able to show my mom.
My green star was gone forever.