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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Friendship (04/04/05)

By Madonna Hooper


“I hate you mum!” The words rang in Elaine Messer’s ears like a hundred deafening sirens. “I’m going out.” She was too exhausted to ask where. Her voice was hoarse from the numerous arguments they’d had this week. She would let him go this time, but only this time.

Elaine didn’t know how to handle this 6ft. tall boy-man who had changed from babe in arms to delinquent in training. And was he dedicated to his training! If degrees were handed out for inflicting pain and hurt he would have a PhD by now.

She heard the door slam for the tenth time this week, followed by the usual cussing and the screech of tires as Justin tore up the driveway on his way to who knew where. Elaine felt like that door. Every nerve in her body was fragile and hanging by a thread. One more ‘slam’ and she felt like she would literally become unhinged.

The phone rang. She let it ring over and over, feeling strangely calmed by the normalcy of such an event. She was relieved to be distracted from her anger and tumultuous thoughts, even if only for a moment. Elaine rescued the receiver just in time. It was her friend Jean. "Elaine, just wondering if I could take you out for coffee. I’ve been praying for you this morning and I’d like to get together if it suits you.” “Sounds good. See you at the Bean Busy coffee shop in half an hour,” Elaine replied.

While waiting for Jean, Elaine noticed a mother on bended knee, comforting her distressed toddler. His voice was quivering as he told his mother of his dilemma. “My teddy has a headache” he lamented. “He fell off the swing and now he has a headache.” His mum stroked his dark hair as only a mother can and then reached out and did the same to Teddy. “Let’s make sure Teddy is alright. I think he could do with a milkshake. What do you think?” The mop of hair moved up and down and a sniffle was stifled as the two (plus Teddy) walked hand in hand into Bean Busy.

Elaine smiled at the simple magic of a mother’s touch. For some reason the little boy reminded her of Justin. How intense and adventurous he had been at that age. Everybody loved him and he knew it. What had changed?

“Elaine! Sorry I’m late.” “Oh, don’t worry Jean. I haven’t been here long.” As Elaine walked into the coffee shop she glanced around for the mother and her little boy. She heard them before she saw them. The little boy was laughing and talking excitedly, tears no longer in sight. Teddy was sitting on the table next to his very own large strawberry milkshake (because strawberry is best for headaches) and mum and toddler were slurping on chocolate milkshakes.

Elaine was mesmerized by the scene at that small table. She remembered how it had been with Justin when he was small and the love she once had for him came flooding back. As a single mum discipline had been foremost on her “What to do to raise a responsible Christian child” list and she was determined, oh so determined, not to be like those mums who become their child’s best friend. She suddenly realized that she had been so focused on what she wasn’t going to do that she had missed what she needed to do – to simply love Justin for who he was. She had thrown the baby out with the bathwater and in doing so had reaped what she’d sown. All those years of discipline without the doting; rules without reassurance; laws without love. She put her head in her hands and began to sob. The sobbing turned into weeping and it was then that she felt tiny fingers touching her hand and heard the voice of a little boy gently say, “Did you fall off the swing too? My teddy fell of the swing but he’s alright now. Maybe you need a strawberry milkshake ’cause strawberry is best for headaches.” She looked up through her tear stained eyes and smiled at this precious child who had taught her so much in such a short time. “Yes,” she replied, “Yes, a strawberry milkshake is just what I need.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Delores Baber04/11/05
Wow! Have I walked in your shoes! So much pain. But only another parent in pain can be the friend that is needed. Your friend was available, but it took the Lord to demostrate the message you truly needed. He is the only friend you really knows how to speak to our heart in a special unique way. Thanks for sharing.
Carol Dee Meeks04/12/05
WONDERFUL work!!! And boy have I been in your shoes...see it coming with my grandsons. God bless you for sharing.
Madonna Hooper04/13/05
Hey everybody, Thanks for the feedback. Just so you know this is a work of fiction. I'm a single gal, never married, never had children but I wanted to try and put myself in a parent's shoes.
Joyce Simoneaux04/13/05
Very well written. An excellent message. Children in a story always tug at your heart. Great work!
Dixie Phillips04/16/05
Loved the tenderness in the child as he comforts the broken-hearted mother. Reminds me of the verse... A little child shall lead them! I just loved the way you had us feel the pain of the mother and then how you so "creatively" applied the "BALM OF GILEAD" with the strawberry milkshake. I'll never look at teddy bears the same again! Bravo!
Deborah Porter 04/18/05
Hi there Madonna. I probably won't get to do this every week, but I'll try to do it as often as I can. I really just wanted to let you know that "Strawberry is Best for Heacaches" made it into the semi-finalist list for the Friendship Challenge. Be encouraged - you were right up there with the winners. With love, Deb (Challenge Co-ordinator)
Linda Watson Owen04/21/05
Madonna, I love the unhinged door comparison. The whole story is wonderful! Blessings to you. Linda O.