“You must write for children the same way you write for adults, only better”
~ Maxim Gorky
My daughter Kathryn (age 10) and I wrote this together (and she picked the title.) I’ll let the piece speak for itself.
I have a very special family – a little strange at times, but special nevertheless.
However, perhaps I should introduce myself before I go talking about others. I’m Ralph, or at least that’s what I’m known as around here. My mother named me “Lord Moon Barker, Car Chaser, Stick Fetcher,” but she’s the only one who ever called me that. As names go, it is kind of a mouthful, so Ralph works just fine.
I’ll never forget the day that I met my family. There they were, wandering around the Animal Shelter looking lost and confused. I could see that they needed help, what with the way they stopped and stared at the Golden Retriever. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are Golden Retrievers, but let one squirrel come into sight and every other thought in their brain just disappears. These poor people were obviously in over their heads and who knows what they might do. It’s a wonder they didn’t decide to take a cat home!
I took pity on them, I mean what dog wouldn’t. I stood up and did my world famous two-fisted paw wave and I was able to grab their attention. Once they noticed me, I knew I had them right in the center of my paw. First thing I did was to get them to them calm down and stop looking at every creature with four legs. It took forever – I mean ten or fifteen minutes! I knew there was only one dog who could take care of this family, and that dog was me.
Naturally we had to stop and fill out all kinds of paperwork. Everything requires paperwork these days, so as soon as we got home and they put some newspaper on the floor I showed them how I feel about paperwork! They must agree, because they rolled up that newspaper and put another one right down in its place!
I took a few days to look around and check out the new home, but after that it was down to business. I’ve been taking care of the family ever since. It’s a good job, but very busy at times, although always interesting. The Brewsters are a good family, but some of the things they do can be quite surprising, at least to this dog.
Let’s start with Sarah. I guess you could say she’s my favorite since she lets me sleep in her bed. She only uses the top part, so I get the end down below her feet. It’s a little cramped, but I don’t mind – besides, I let her have the pillow all to herself. Every once in a while she kicks. She must be dreaming about chasing rabbits or something.
One day she walked into the kitchen and told her mother, “I want to get a bunk bed!” I was NOT happy! How in the world would in I sneak up under her covers in the middle of the night, lick her toes, and scare the dog biscuits out of her? Not to mention the fact that she ignores her alarm when it goes off. I’m the one who has to look her square in the face and whine until she finally crawls ever so slowly out of bed. Fortunately her mother wasn’t too excited with the idea either.
“Now, Sarah,” Mom said, “You have a perfectly good bed already. A bunk bed would be expensive, not to mention new sheets and blankets.”
“But it would be so great for sleepovers, and I could sleep on the top bunk. It would be just too cool.”
“We’ll see,” said Mom. When she says “We’ll see,” it doesn’t mean “No,” but it’s a long way from “Yes.” However, Sarah seemed happy enough with that answer. I knew it was only a matter of time until she started asking her mother again. A matter of very short time. This dog needed to get the situation under control and quickly.
That night as Sarah got ready for bed, I waited in the living room while she got ready for bed. I didn’t have to see what she was doing, since I’m a dog, after all. I cocked an ear so I could hear her running the bath water. I could easily smell the toothpaste when she brushed her teeth, and then I heard her head for bed. It took only a couple of minutes before she realized I wasn’t waiting for her in the bedroom.
“Ralph!” she called. I waited until she called me three times before I walked slowly into her room. Instead of jumping on the bed I went alongside the bed and put my chin on her mattress. I gave her puppy eyes. I don’t mind telling you that no dog can give puppy eyes like I do. I mean it was the whole treatment, ears down, everything.
“What’s wrong, Ralph? She asked. I just sat there. Sometimes silence is the best way to communicate. “Why don’t you get up here on the bed and go to sleep like you always do?” I still just sat there and tried to look as sad as I could. After a minute or two I could see her eyes flicker with understanding.
“Oh my!” she said. “If I got a bunk bed and slept on the top bunk, you wouldn’t be able to climb up the ladder and sleep on my bed! Well we can’t have that!” She leaned over and put both her arms around me.
“I guess I can’t get a bunk bed unless you learn to climb a ladder,” she said. Hmmph! Like that would ever happen! If she had gotten the bunk bed instead of climbing the ladder, I would have left her a little surprise at the bottom for her to find in the morning – if you know what I mean.
I hate to be so strict with Sarah, but I just had to put a stop to such nonsense as quickly as I could. After all, when you love your family you need to make sure that they do what is best for them. It’s my job!
“If you tell me, it’s an essay. If you show me, it’s a story.”
~ Barbara Greene
Copyright 2011 SF Nowak – All Rights Reserved