Not long ago I was volunteering at a school party for my fourth grade daughter. One of her friends asked me, “Mrs. Forkner, are you famous?”
I laughed and said, “no, I’m not famous, silly!” I glanced over at my daughter to share a laugh with her, that somebody would think her mom was famous. Much to my surprise, I was met with a disappointed and slightly accusatory look from her.
Later at home, when I asked my daughter what was wrong, she said, “But mom, you are famous, aren’t you?”
“Not really, honey.”
She gave a cute little huff and stuck out her lip. “But mom, your book is at Barnes and Noble. You were on TV and you are published in a magazine.”
“That’s true, honey.”
“And your picture is on a blog.” Her voice began to rise. “You had a book signing. You ARE sort of famous, aren’t you?”
I looked at her eyes, filled with hope, and some desperation. It didn’t take much questioning to figure out that she had told her friends that her mom was famous. Bless her little heart, I had embarrassed her when I told her friend, quite loudly, that no, I wasn’t famous.
You should also know that this is the same little girl, who when she was about two-and-half or three, looked at a magazine cover featuring a beautiful bomb shell of a model and said with much excitement, “Momma. You!”
Of course it wasn’t me. I laughed then too, but she remained unconvinced until the magazine disappeared months later and she forgot about it. The amazing thing is that she didn’t understand fame. She just assumed that I could be on the front of a magazine.
So, as I looked at my fourth grader, her face filled with disappointment, I said, “Yes, honey. Of course I am famous. My book is at the bookstore, isn’t it?” She was thrilled. I didn’t know if I should be happy that she thought it possible for me to be famous or worried that the word fame even came up.
I wonder, in this age of Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers, if kids really know what it means to be famous. I haven’t figured out my daughter’s little brain yet, but this conversation about my being famous seemed not to have much to do with my being a published author and more about my being in the public eye. Of course, I’ve been in the public eye so little that it has barely been noticed, except by her, my biggest fan. All she knows is that I’m always saying things like, “I have a radio interview this morning, so we need to get you to school on time so I can get back home and talk to the host.”
This curiosity really isn’t just limited to my daughter. Yesterday, my youngest stepson asked just exactly how many books had I sold anyway? I rattled off the numbers and waited for the frown. Yet, he and my oldest stepson couldn’t believe it. The youngest one did the math in his head and was quite sure we’d be very rich soon. Now, how do I explain that one to him?
My husband snorted and we shared a secret smile, then we changed the subject, which is so easily done with kids. After all, I didn’t want to dissap0int my stepson, like I had my daughter. But I couldn’t imagine conceding and saying, “Yes, sweetie. You are right. We are going to be rich any day now.”
Unless, of course, we aren’t talking about money anymore. Instead, maybe we are talking about the value of our kids and what it means for them to believe in us, even when we think it’s only important that we believe in them.
In that case, who needs book royalties? We are rich!