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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)

TITLE: Jake's Ladder
By Patty Wysong


“Sh. Your father's sleeping, so you're going to have to be quiet until he wakes up,” Misti said as she put some cookies on the table for her youngest son who had recently entered first grade.

Jake stuffed half of an oatmeal cookie in his mouth. “I hate it when Daddy has to work nights.”

“We all do, Jake, even Daddy. But it's life so we just have to deal with it make the most of it. Thankfully he doesn't have to work nights all the time.” Misti poured his milk and joined him at the table. “What'd you do in school today?”

“Kyle's dad came and told us what to do if our house burns down and how to stop, drop and roll if our clothes catch on fire. It was fun.” Kyle swung his foot back and forth, scuffing the chair rung on each pass.

“I take it Kyle's dad is a fireman?”

“Yeah, he's so cool! He's huge, Mom, you should see his muscles. He said he's saved lots of people, and that people have even cheered when he's come down a ladder.” Jake took a big drink of milk, leaving a milk mustache. “I wanna be a fireman when I grow up.”

Misti handed Jake a napkin. “Being a fireman wouldn't be bad, except when there's a fire or a big accident.”

“Kyle's dad said it's a dang'rous job,” Jake said as he swiped at his mustache.

“Yes, it is and I bet that Kyle's mom is often concerned he'll get hurt sometime.”

Jake stopped chewing and looked at Misti. “You mean like Lindsay's dad?”

“Yes. Has she said how he's doing?”

“She said he couldn't fix roads anymore because he can hardly walk, so he's gonna try fixin' computers instead.” Jake leaned back in his chair, a frown creasing his face. Even his foot was still. “Mommy?”

A smile tugged Misti's mouth. “What is it, Jakey?”

“Why do dads have to have dang'rous jobs? Why don't they just work in stores or somethin' like Carey's dad?”

“Well, not all jobs pay the same, and the jobs in stores around here just don't pay enough to take care of our family.”

Jake took another bite of his cookie. “So Daddy has a dang'rous job to take care of us?”

“Yes, but remember, he's real careful.”

“Yeah, he showed me all his safety 'quipment when he brought it home last weekend to clean. It was cool.” Jake's foot scuffed against the chair rung once again as he finished his milk. “Does Daddy like being a coal miner?”

Misti chuckled. “Well, not especially.”

“So why doesn't he do somethin' else, like Lindsay's dad is gonna do?”

“Daddy has a good job, and even though he doesn't really like it, he doesn't hate it either. Besides, there's not many other jobs around here.”

Confusion clouded Jake's face and he tugged on his ear.

“Daddy keeps going to work to take care of us,” she explained as she ruffled his hair.

A smile blossomed on Jake's face and he jumped up and went to the cabinet where his paper and crayons were. “He takes care of us because he loves us.”

“That's right, Jakey, he loves us a whole bunch.”

The kitchen door opened and a taller version of Jake came in, backpack in hand. “Hey, Mom. Dad sleeping?”

“Yes, Jared, he is. He said he'd be up in time to make it to the game tonight. There's cookies on the table and your uniform is on the dryer.”

“Cool. Thanks, Mom.” He snagged a cookie and popped it into his mouth, whole. “What'cha makin', Jakey?” he asked as he poured a glass of milk.

“I'm makin' a picture for Daddy.” Jake stopped his coloring and looked up at his older brother, his eyes blinking owlishly. “Did you know Daddy loves us so much he's a coal miner? That's what he does to take care of us. I'm drawin' him a picture for a su'prise in his lunch box tonight.” Jake held up his picture and showed his brother. “That's Daddy on a ladder.”

“Why's he on a ladder?” Jared asked around the cookie in his mouth.

Jake rolled his eyes. “'Cause heroes climb ladders and Daddy's a hero.”

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This article has been read 906 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betty Castleberry04/18/08
Good job with the dialog. Liked the message, too. This is nicely done.
Donna Powers 04/19/08
This is a sweet story and a well-written message. It would be a good one for kids to read. I enjoyed it too!
Joanne Sher 04/19/08
So moving, and I love the title and the authenticity of Jake's voice. Very nicely done. Good stuff.
Laury Hubrich 04/20/08
Very good! Loved this and I'm pretty sure I know who wrote it:) Nice job. Loved listening to the little boy's thought processes and how he finally "got it."
Glynis Becker04/21/08
This is very well done. I love the dialogue and the ending brought a tear to my eye. Wonderful piece.
Chely Roach04/21/08
This was awesome! I loved the little details, like his constantly moving foot scuffing the chair rung. I am jealous of your masterful use of dialogue. Loved it!
Mariane Holbrook 04/21/08
I don't often use the word "sweet" but I can't help it this time. It truly is. It's definitely a keeper!
Nice job!
Jan Ackerson 04/21/08
Excellent! Lots of pieces with parent-child dialogue get the voices wrong, but I think you nailed it here.
Leigh MacKelvey04/21/08
Good distinction between the different characters' voices. I would be so afraid if my daddy had been a coal miner!
Janice Cartwright04/22/08
I love the message in this story. What a wise wife and mother to see and convey to her children their father's true heroism. The dialogue around cookie eating was well-done and brought the reader right into your story with lots of word pictures.
Joshua Janoski04/22/08
The voice of the child and mother were spot on. I think it can be tough writing dialogue-heavy pieces like this, but you executed it perfectly. Not only that, but the story was very cute as well.

What a blessing to read. Thank you for sharing it. :)
Dee Yoder 04/22/08
I really enjoyed reading this, Peej! The image of the little boy swinging his foot back and forth is so cute-and vivid. Love all the characters and the dialogue.
Marita Thelander 04/23/08
Great dialog. I liked it when Jake rolled his eys at his brother. That whole, "Duh! Why doncha get it?" look came right to my imagination.
LauraLee Shaw04/23/08
TOO cute! I have no idea why I can picture the eyes rolling so well at the end. ;)
Beth LaBuff 04/23/08
I loved your play on word in your title! The ladder/hero comparison is great. It was so fun to see Dads throught kid eyes. Really great story with excellent writing!
Yvonne Blake 04/23/08
Beautiful...you captured it just right!
Sara Harricharan 04/23/08
Awwww! Cute! That's my first reaction to this, the second one is a happy smile. I liked Jake and I especially liked his ladder-very true words and what a neat explanation. Great job! ^_^