We exited the pre-K and kindergarten graduation ceremony like we exit most things—in a heap of dramatic despair. Our youngest was refusing to budge because leaving meant she’d no longer be able to “shake my booty” on the stage that had become a pseudo dance party for a bunch of kids waiting for their parents to wrap up small talk. Our oldest was hopped up on pizza and performance adrenaline—when asked what she wanted to be when she grows up while getting her “diploma,” she forgot the word for coach (“coach”) and blurted into the microphone, “I want to be a swim … … … HA HA HA HA HA HA!” and ran off the stage to the sporadic applause of a very confused crowd.
What saved us from the continuation of these dramatic antics was their realization that their tremendous personal effort of not getting kicked out of the lowest level of school had earned them a parting gift—a tiny, stuffed bear wearing a tassel, insinuating that it, too, had recently graduated from school. Also, the bears came in a multitude of colors, just like real purple bears.
The graduation bears almost immediately became a source of both frustration and leverage—the girls fought over the purple and orange bears until they were taken away with the promise/threat that they’d only be returned after some consistent good behavior.
Our youngest thought for a good 20 seconds, and then settled on “Toto.” This did not please our oldest, who informed her sister that Toto is a dog and she can’t name her bear after a dog. (I stayed out of this, btw.) About two minutes passed as our youngest was forced to implement Plan B. Eventually, she decided on “Sandy.” Our oldest, growing more frustrated, claimed that name was off limits too, since Sandy is the dog from Annie.
It was clear now that our youngest was going to have to come up with a name for her bear that was a) original and b) not a dog. This was going to require A LOT of thought, but she didn’t shy away. We were almost at school when she finally decided on the perfect name for her graduation bear:
King of the Dog.
Yes, when faced with the dilemma of not being able to name her bear after a dog, our youngest did the unthinkable and made her bear KING of the dog. Not king of all dogs, mind you—let’s not be ridiculous—but King of the Dog, singular. This marked the first time that I witnessed our oldest, a veteran of rolling her eyes, shake her head in disgust and just give up. It should also be mentioned that, at the time of its official naming, King of the Dog was being strangled with the tassels our youngest had managed to completely pull out of its graduation cap.
It’s a good thing she had already earned her pre-K diploma, because this may have compromised things a bit.
Two days later, after removing the car seats, I drove some coworkers to an event. One of them noticed King of the Dog and said, “Awww, so cute!”
“Do you want to know its name?” I asked.