Copyright Sweetea Writing Company, LLC. All rights reserved.
I went on a field trip with my elementary school class to the Sandy Becker Television Show in New York. Sandy Becker was a very popular children’s show, with a live audience of about a hundred screaming children. The studio was filled with bright colorful spinning lights and about a handful of cameras capturing every angle. Children were randomly picked from the audience to participate in the games that yielded great prizes. Children excitedly waved their hands as the camera scanned the crowd looking for that face that a camera would love. Unspeakable joy filled my heart when the camera spotted my full smiling round face and stopped. I was plucked from the audience and asked to join the host Sandy Becker on stage. I was asked a few silly questions and based on the right answers was rewarded with a special prize. My eyes became big as saucers when I was presented with the most beautiful red areokite I had ever seen. Then it happened, I was asked a parting question-Sandy Becker asked me. “If you could be like anyone in the world who would you like to be?” and at 8 years old my heart answered on national TV in front of millions of people and my hard working three-different –jobs-a-week father. “I would like to be like Caroline Kennedy.” “Caroline Kennedy” he repeated, and why would you like to be like her? “Well, I answered, “She has pretty dresses, and I would like to have pretty dresses too.” The host gently responded, “That is a very pretty dress you’re wearing” I sheepishly replied, “thank you.” Someone off stage gave the signal for our conversation to end, and we went to a break.
At 8 years old, I was very much aware of the differences in the way I was dressed compared to some of my other classmates. My parents, particularly my mother, always sent me to school looking clean and neat. My father often worked several jobs just to bring home a meager wage for my four siblings, my mother and I. Never did I imagine that my answer on television that day would have the outcome that was to follow.
The show had been taped and was scheduled to air the next evening. The next evening we all gathered as a family to watch. Everything was great as we watched with anticipation and great pride for my small television debut. Well, my time finally came. My siblings hugged and kissed me with joy as they watched their baby sister on TV. They squealed as I was presented with my beautiful red areokite, and they complemented me on how straight and tall I stood as I answered the questions that were presented to me. Then it happened. That question was asked again and this time I was able to hear it and see it apart from all the noise and excitement that filled the studio that day. He asked “If you could be like anyone in the world who would you like to be?” and this time my answer was the only sound I heard in my ear that day. When I said, “I would like to be like Caroline Kennedy,” my father gasped so loud and with such force I thought for a moment that his breath would not return. My father was so hurt and disappointed by my answer that he could hardly speak. His expression was one that I will never forget. His countenance showed the shame he felt for what he thought was his inability to provide me with, in this case, pretty dresses. After he gained his composure, he softly asked me why I wanted to be Caroline Kennedy: I tried to explain in the language and reasoning of an 8-year-old, that I just wanted the pretty dresses, not to live in the White House. I just wanted the “Pretty Dresses.”