What is a chicken star? Ask my four-year-old son. Well, he was three when he spilled the beans about his place of origin, actually. It was a strange and magical moment that continues well into the present day.
Here’s what I know about preschoolers: They are imaginative in the most fluid way possible. Watching both of my kids play during their respective preschool ages has been nothing short of mythical. They can/could both bounce in, around, through, and out of any subject, character, situation, or story without missing a beat. The imagination just streams out of children that age almost too fast. They often lose track of their own storylines which forces them to improvise new ones. This, of course, doesn’t slow the action in any way whatsoever. But if you ask them about the game they were playing earlier in the day, the details get sketchy, but understandably so.
This is why my wife and I believe our son is from The Chicken Star. It’s a story he began telling one evening and he hasn’t changed a detail since that night, flowing along with the tale whenever asked about it, as well as at random intervals.
He was probably about three and a half at the time. It was winter, and we had just left a restaurant we frequent. I was carrying him to the car in one arm and it was nice and dark out. The winter always brings the loveliest view of the stars, and maybe someone commented on the particularly clear evening, maybe not, but one thing was for sure: My son noticed.
A little, chubby finger shot up toward the night sky and locked in on a bright star to the west. His face soared and brightened. The words rocketed out of his mouth.
“THAT’S MY CHICKEN STAR!”
Naturally, some questions followed, but we didn’t need to ask any because he suddenly went on a garrulous roll. Strapped into his car seat and kicking, smiling, and looking out the window, our son who typically shouts to be heard captivated us all with his origin story. Here are the basics:
He lived on the Chicken Star before he came to Earth to be born from his mama. His sister was there, too, but he let her go first when it was time to go and that is why she is his older sister. The Chicken Star is filled with chicken people who only speak in “bawks,” but he understands them, he can speak Bawk. He also provided some bawks from the backseat as form of proof.
On the Chicken Star he has a best friend named Baby Winky who still lives there and Baby Winky lives in an egg but can come out whenever he wants so he can play and dance. Baby Winky can still talk to him while he’s here on Earth, but no one else can hear him. He misses his Chicken Star, but it’s nice to see it and we will all go there some day as a family and he can introduce us all to his friends.
This doesn’t cover half of it. He added so much detail and world-building that he talked about it for the entire twenty-minute car ride home, the whole time we were getting ready for bed, and had to be stopped when it was time to say goodnight.
My wife and I thought it was hilarious and really quite cool. Storytelling is a beautiful art, no matter how silly. Seeing our son just dive headlong into a story simply after seeing a bright star in the sky was fun and charming. We figured that would be the end of it when we said goodnight, and we were happy our son felt happy about his space yarn.
But it kept marching on the next day. We kept hearing about the Chicken Star. We kept hearing about Baby Winky. The details remained consistent, which is unusual for made up preschool tales. He wanted to talk more about it, and we wanted to listen. The story raged on over playtime and dinner conversations. The world became richer and more in-depth, and he told the tale with a bright, sweet enthusiasm.
To say my son is a physical kid is a little bit of an understatement. He will dive into anything and give it a good shot at the very least, often times leading to minor injuries. He wants to do things often and he wants to be strong and tough and be good at sports. And he often wouldn’t stop for stories. He has always had a love for books and listening to tales, but outwardly, he’s typically a wild man who doesn’t focus long enough to engage in dramatic play. But a lot of that changed after that night.
He’s still physical and wild, but Baby Winky has stayed with us, as has the Chicken Star. He will bring it all up randomly, as well as with other shorter tales, jokes, and ideas he comes up with. It’s funny, because we know it’s a part of him that has always been there, we just thought it was less so until that Chicken Star story exploded out of his brain that night. Since then, since seeing our enthusiasm for listening to him, he has accelerated in the storytelling department. It’s wonderful to watch.
When he was a little less than two, we were a bit concerned that he wasn’t quite on schedule for talking. He communicated and could follow any direction given to him, but he wouldn’t really get on with the words. His sister, on the other hand, has always been a big time talker. She basically came out of the womb greeting everyone with a warm hello. She would help her little brother make the connections all the time and say what he needed to say. And he was more than happy to have the help.
Well, one day she got croup, which led to laryngitis. She couldn’t even really speak above a whisper. And on that same day, her little brother who barely could muster out one word at a time suddenly busted out with complete ideas, sentences, and questions. Silence struck down his representative, so he spoke up. It was hilarious. And we cheered him on. Ever since, he has had no trouble expressing his mind.
And up until the evening of the Chicken Star, he’d keep it simple with wants and needs for the most part. His sister was the one to take the charge with the imaginative storylines and dramatic lead. But then, after we all cheered him on because of how great his Chicken Star story was/is, he’s lost any reservations for making up any little thing he can, all in the name of fun. It’s to the point where he’s difficult to stop at times. I love it.
We will always remember this about our son. Both of our children, really, but especially our son. As we watch him grow up and face challenges, we will help by giving encouragement, enthusiasm and our listening ears. He can do anything he wants to put his mind to, really.
I mean, he made it across the galaxy to be here, after all.