Mama's favorite sayings...
"Busy hands are happy hands."
"Every age is the best age."
Mama, here's a little story about us.
The Little Black Stool
As usual, the four big kids rushed through their breakfasts then scrambled to get outside as the school bus rumbled up our big hill. After I waved goodbye and the house finally became still, our day could begin… calm, cozy, comfortable…
The dark clouds didn’t matter much at first. Even the rain didn’t bother our morning routine. I perched happily on the little black stool. It was nothing more than four round legs and a seat, but I loved it because it was little, like me. My feet could touch the floor, hook on the crosspiece, or fold up underneath me. It fit me, so it was mine. I ate my Cocoa Puffs and watched Captain Kangaroo, as usual. Momma started some laundry then cleaned up the kitchen, as usual.
Everything peaceful about that day changed when Daddy called from his work. After they talked, Momma’s eyes said fear, but her voice said calm. She needed me to be a big girl for her while she went out. It would be like a game for me. “I have to pull the boat up so the flood doesn’t wash it away. You get to stay here to watch for me. Let’s move the little black stool right by the door. You can watch for me, and I’ll be right back. Don’t get off the little black stool.”
I’d never stayed home alone before. How exciting! I could do it! I watched Momma put on her raincoat and Daddy’s boots. She hugged me hard, too hard. Then she left.
Knees against aluminum, forehead against glass, I sat very still on the little black stool and stared outside. Everything I could see was gray, everything. The lightning and thunder were not pretty like Momma had always said. There was no pitter-patter of little raindrops. This rain pounded against the house and the ground. The wind was probably howling, but the rain was louder.
Where was Momma? She’d been gone too long. I had to stay on the little black stool. What if she fell? What if the bull came after her? What if the flood washed her away? I had to stay on the little black stool.
Still on the stool, I scooted across the hardwood to look out the back door. Then I scooted back to the front door. Momma needed me. I would go get her. I would accidentally fall off the little black stool and go get her. I knew when my bottom left that black woven wood that I was no longer minding Momma, but she needed me. I would go get her.
The house seemed so big and hollow. I tried not to make a sound as I walked through the den, kitchen, and onto the back porch. I took my raincoat off its peg and buttoned every button. Momma would want me to stay dry. Then I reached for my red boots. I was careful not to knock any of Momma’s canning jars off the shelf. Then I checked for spiders before I slipped a bare foot into each boot.
Stepping out into the rain was scary, cold. The trail seemed longer this time. Branches kept poking me, and rocks kept tripping me. The lake had big waves going in all directions like a monster was turning flips under the surface. Where was Momma? I turned away from the lake, away from the trail, and trudged toward the road. I came to the barbed wire fence, and I had to climb through. The barbs pulled and ripped at my red raincoat. I needed Momma to hold the wires apart for me. Where was she? I’d never walked up that hill before. The dirt road had turned into slippery mud. The rain made it hard for me to see. What if a car came? I might be too little for the driver to notice. I shouldn’t be near the road without Momma.
Then I heard her voice calling my name! She was running toward me. Her raincoat wasn’t buttoned. Why was she crying? I’d come for her, but she kept saying she’d found me. Her voice said fear, but her eyes said joy. She hugged me hard, too hard.
I don’t remember what came next. Maybe chicken noodle soup, maybe a spanking… probably both.
My first recollection of fear, decision, and determination… Mom’s clearest memory of fear, more fear, and relief… I chuckle at the thought of my innocent bravery. Mom shudders and refuses to hear the story again.