Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
- TITLE: When I Get Big, and You Get Little
By Myrna Noyes
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It had all begun innocently enough that afternoon when school let out. First grader Betty had brought five or six neighborhood kids home with her, and no thought of mischief had yet entered their minds. She intended to ask her mother if she could play with them, and when she walked into the house, they came in, too. Betty’s parents weren’t home, however, having gone to the store; and the children looked at each other, wondering what to do next.
Warren’s eyes gleamed with interest when he noticed the big box of matches on the kitchen table, and he excitedly exclaimed to the others, “Hey, guys, look here! Matches!” He held up the box for everyone to admire, and then continued, “I know what we can do! Let’s build a bonfire like my dad did last week! It was lots of fun! C’mon, let’s go collect leaves and sticks and stuff and meet back here in a few minutes, okay?”
Betty and the other children scampered off to gather twigs, papers, and whatever else was handy and began to construct a beautiful bonfire on the side of the house between Betty’s place and the Norville’s next door. “Speed” tossed a lit match on the pile, and the children stood around to glory in their handiwork. In moments it was a truly splendid blaze, and soon the flames were licking at the roof as hungrily as a child with a chocolate ice cream cone.
Mrs. Norville heard the exuberant cheers and delighted cries of the children and went to her window to investigate. What she saw horrified her, and she quickly flew outside and yelled, “You just wait, Betty, until your mother comes home and finds out what you’ve done!” The lady swiftly put out the fire, while the neighbor kids scattered as if a hawk had landed among some chickens. And that was how Betty came to be hiding behind the bed in her room.
True to her threat, Mrs. Norville marched right over to tell on Betty as soon as her parents got back. Betty’s furious stepfather immediately marched outside and cut some kindling. Back in the house, he ominously commanded, “Betty, come here,” and proceeded to use one of the sticks to spank her hard. With both her posterior and her pride smarting from the blows, Betty tearfully looked her watching mother in the eye and declared defiantly, “You just wait, Mama! When I get big and you get little, I’m going to spank you!”
It was a scene somewhat reminiscent of the biblical story of David and Goliath. As a skinny, petite child whose mother was of good height and quite substantial weight, Betty’s warning didn’t seem likely to be fulfilled any time soon. She thought, however, that if there was any true justice in this cold, cruel world, she would turn the tables on her mother someday!
Betty was still at that age when parents loomed large in children’s limited sight. They were seen as all-powerful and all-knowing (especially when you’ve done something you don’t want them to find out about), with the ability to solve every problem, cure every ill with a kiss and a bandage, and leap over tall buildings in a single bound.
Parents often appear almost as superheroes to little ones, but by the time the children become teenagers, their parents have seemingly shrunk in both size and intelligence. They no longer tower over every enemy or comprehend everything there is to know. In fact, they’re often something of an embarrassment to their adolescent progeny!
Somewhere along the line, though, usually when these children are married and have offspring of their own, most again come to perceive how wise and great their parents really are and to appreciate them more.
By the time Betty herself “got big” and grew to beautiful young womanhood, she realized her mother was never going to cooperate by getting little! By then, however, she had abandoned the desire to spank her mother and recognized her worth instead!
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