Michael is 2 years old. John is 5. David is 7. How old are you ?
Michael sat in the middle of the kitchen floor and practised piling his coloured beakers on top of one another. David helped him, showing him how to take the bottom one out of the pile. It made them fall down all over the kitchen floor with a lovely clattering noise. One of them went right under the stove where it was all dark and fluffy, and only Michael could crawl under and get it.
"Well done, Michael !" said David.
"I've got to go shopping," said Mummy. She wanted Michael to stay at home and help Daddy in the garden. Daddy wanted Michael to go and help Mummy with the shopping.
"It's Mummy's turn to have Michael," said John.
Michael felt very proud. Everyone wanted him to help them!
When they got to the big shop, Mummy held Michael's hand very tightly. How could he help if she wouldn't even let go, he wondered. Mummy had a basket in her other hand to put the shopping in. "Wipe nose," said Michael, and while Mummy was looking for his hankie he held on to the basket handle and looked around for things to buy for dinner.
"Chocolate? Jam? Sweets? " he asked hopefully.
"We haven't got enough pennies," said Mummy.
Just then Michael noticed a man piling a lot of tins of beans on top of one another. More and more tins! Soon the pile was even higher than Mummy. What a nice man! But he didn't seem to know what to do next. Who could help him? Michael rushed over to the pile and carefully took out one of the bottom tins. CRASH! CLATTER! CRASH! BANG! BUMP! Tins were rolling all over the shop!
"Oh, Michael!" said Mummy, "What did you do that for?"
"Help man again?" asked Michael.
"No, thank you, not today," said the nice man. "Go and help someone else."
When they got home Daddy was busy in the garden.
"It's your turn to have Michael," said Mummy. David and John were digging their own bit of garden, and John showed Michael how to rake the earth and make a long hole and put some sunflower seeds in. Then they covered them up and watered them with John's new watering can, to make them grow tall.
Soon David and John went off on their bicycles, and Michael was left to play in the sand-pit, while Daddy went in for a cup of tea.
Suddenly Michael noticed that Daddy had left his box of seeds on the garden seat. He would sow Daddy's seeds for him! Carefully he dug little holes all over the sand-pit. Then he took each little packet and poured the seeds into the holes. Some of the packets wouldn't open, so he put the whole packet in. Next he jumped about in the sand until the holes were full up again. Now some water! Daddy always used the hose-pipe to wash the car; Michael would use it to water Daddy's seeds. It was quite hard to turn the tap on, but at last there was a lovely squirty noise, and lots of water shot out of the end of the hose- pipe and all over the washing on the line. That will make it even cleaner, thought Michael.
Soon he managed to put the end of the hose-pipe into the sand-pit, and then climbed in as well and paddled in the sandy water. Then he sat down with a splash and stuck his fingers into the sand to make sure the seeds were wet enough. Daddy would be pleased!
"Where are my seeds, Michael?" asked Daddy, when he had come out again and turned off the water.
"All wet! Grow tall!" said Michael proudly.
After dinner there was a ring on the door-bell. Brrrr! Brrrrr! There was a man with an enormous parcel for Mummy. Michael helped to open it, and Daddy pushed the big white thing into the kitchen.
"It's a spin drier," he told Michael. Then Daddy put the empty cardboard box in the shed.
"I expect it will be useful one day," he said.
Next Mummy had to go into town. "Your turn again," said John, so Michael went with her. In the High Street there was a man playing music on a kind of little piano, and people were throwing pennies into his hat on the ground. Michael wanted to take some, to put in his new red money-box with the slit in the lid, but Mummy said "No!" Michael was just going to start crying when he noticed a man lying down in a cardboard box in a door-way, covered with bits of newspaper. There were pennies in his hat too! Mummy gave Michael a penny to put in the man's hat.
"He hasn't got a proper place to live," she said. "I expect he's cold and hungry." Michael felt in his pocket and found a fluffy piece of cheese, and dropped it in the man's hat. "Dinner!" he explained.
After tea Michael had his bed-time story with Daddy, while Mummy had a litlle rest. Just then the phone rang.
Brrrrbrrrr! Brrrrrbrrrrr! While Daddy talked on the phone, Michael had an idea. He would go to sleep in a box instead of in his bed, and then everyone would give him pennies! Quick now! Michael took his money-box and Daddy's paper and tiptoed out to the shed. Daddy had put a lovely cardboard box there all ready for him. There was an old sack in the shed, too. Michael made a little nest for himself in the box, shut the flaps and closed his eyes. It was lovely and dark, and he was really quite tired after all his hard work. He was soon fast asleep.
When Daddy finished talking on the phone he went into the living room.
"Where's my paper?" he asked. "Thank you for putting Michael to bed."
Mummy opened her eyes.
"I didn't," she answered. "I thought you did."
David and John looked at one another and groaned. "Not again!" said David.
Everyone ran upstairs, but there was no sign of Michael. Daddy looked in all the cupboards and wardrobes, and David and John looked under all the beds. Downstairs again, Mummy looked in the larder, but still no Michael could be found.
"It was your turn to look after him, Daddy," said John. "I hope he's all right!"
"I know," said Daddy sadly. "I was just telling Grandpa about the football results."
"The back door is open, and someone has left the side gate open again," said Mummy, "And it's pitch dark outside. We'll never find him on our own." She looked as though she was going to cry, and David and John went and hugged her.
"It's not your fault," said David, kindly.
"I suppose I'd better ring the police," sighed Daddy. "I don't think they will be very pleased, after the last time."
All at once John had an idea.
"Wait a minute, Daddy!" he shouted, and ran to get his new torch. Then he whispered something in David's ear, and the two boys rushed out into the darkness.
The shed door was half open. John shone his torch inside, and opened the flaps on the big box. There was Michael! Daddy carried him indoors, still half asleep, and put him to bed upstairs.
"Oh, thank you, John!" said Mummy. "How did you know where he was?"
John laughed. "I remembered what he told me at tea-time. He said 'Man in box. Gets pennies!' " explained John.
Mummy was so relieved that she opened a packet of chocolate biscuits that she had been hiding on the top shelf in the larder. "Can I have Michael's share, too?" asked David. "He'll never know! "And people who live in cardboard boxes don't have chocolate biscuits!"
- Why do you think Mummy held Michael's hand very tightly in the shop?
- Do you think that Daddy was pleased that Michael sowed the seeds in the sand-pit?
- Why do you think Michael had some fluffy cheese in his pocket?
Michael trotted round and round the house, carrying his new shopping bag. It was a present from Grandma and Grandpa, and had two handles and a picture of a pussy-cat on the side.
First he filled it with his bricks, and then Mummy let him put the clothes pegs in it, and give them to her one at a time as she hung out the washing.
"You are a great help, Michael!" said Mummy.
Soon it was time for the whole family to go for a walk to feed the ducks. They went every week. David and John got all the old bread out of the bread-bin, and broke it up into bits and put them in a paper bag. Daddy got the push-chair ready for Michael.
"Last week I had to carry him all the way home dripping wet," he said. "At least he can't get into mischief if he's strapped in."
Michael didn't really want to sit in the push-chair. He sat down on the ground instead and cried.
"Walk!" he sobbed.
David had a good idea.
"If you sit in the push-chair you can carry the ducks' bread in your shopping bag," he told him. Quickly Michael climbed in, and they were soon on their way to the pond.
As they went, David and John played a game called I Spy, that Michael didn't really understand, and Mummy talked to Mrs. Jones, who was also going to the pond with her little girl, Mary. Michael was bored. He felt inside his shopping bag, and poked his fingers into the paper bag with the bread in. Perhaps he would try just one piece. Mmmmmmm! Delicious! And another! And another! And another! And another.....
"What a dear, good little boy Michael is!" said Mrs. Jones. John and David looked at one another and giggled.
"If you only knew!" exclaimed Mummy. "You can have him any time you want!"
Michael sat very quietly in the push-chair. Mummy was going to give him away to Mrs. Jones. Mummy didn't love him any more. What could he do? Where could he hide so that Mummy wouldn't give him away? Big tears trickled down his cheeks.
Soon they all reached the pond, and Mary and Mrs. Jones started feeding the ducks. Michael nearly fell out of the push- chair in his excitement.
"Quack quack!" he shouted.
David and John and Mummy and Daddy were excited too. Everyone likes feeding ducks.
"Where's the bread?" asked Daddy.
They all looked at Michael. Michael looked in his shopping bag. He looked back along the path.
"All gone!" he said sadly.
"Where's it gone?" asked Mummy. She sounded quite cross. Michael burst into tears. Mummy didn't love him any more.
When they all got home again, Mummy put the dinner on the table. It was Michael's favourite - cauliflower cheese with peas and carrots and mashed potato. Michael sat in his little chair and stirred his dinner round and round with his spoon, and made patterns on his plate.. He didn't eat any.
"I do hope he's not ill," said Mummy anxiously.
"I think I know where the ducks' bread went," laughed David. Daddy ate Michael's left-over dinner.
"It tastes nicer than dry bread," he said.
Mummy had invited Mrs. Jones and Mary to come round and play with Michael that afternoon, after everyone had had a little rest. Mrs. Jones couldn't understand why Mummy wouldn't let Michael go round to Mary's house to play.
"We'd love to have him, he's so helpul," she said.
"That's what I'm afraid of!" said Mummy.
Mary and David and John played in the living room with Michael's toys, while Michael stood behind the sofa and peeped out at them.
"Come and play with us, Michael!" called David. Michael couldn't quite decide what to do. He wanted to play with them, but what if Mrs. Jones took him away with her when she went? He took the rug and made a little nest for himself behind the sofa. No-one could find him there!
After Mrs. Jones and Mary had gone, Michael came out and ran and clung onto Mummy's legs, and sucked his thumb.
"Whatever is the matter?" asked Mummy. "John, see if you can get him to tell you why he's so upset."
John took Michael upstairs and showed him how his new torch worked. Michael tried it out under the bed-clothes in John's bed. It was nice in the dark snuggling up to John. John hugged him. Michael felt safe at last.
"Mrs. Jones. Take Michael away!" he whispered.
At tea-time John remembered what Mummy had asked him to find out.
"I think Michael is afraid you're going to give him away to Mrs. Jones," he said.
Mummy and Daddy looked horrified.
"Oh, Michael, darling, we'd never do that!" cried Mummy. "We all love you very, very much!"
Everyone hugged Michael and kissed him. Mummy gave him a piece of chocolate from the top shelf. Daddy gave him three pennies to put in his money box. John lent Michael his torch to go to bed with. David lent him his old teddy bear.
"We'll both put you to bed tonight," said Mummy. "You're such a dear, good boy!"
"I must help Mummy and Daddy even more tomorrow," thought Michael, as he dropped off to sleep.
- Why do you think Daddy had to carry Michael home all dripping wet last week?
- Why didn't Michael eat his dinner?
The next morning, Michael was helping Daddy to vacuum the living room, while Mummy picked raspberries in the garden. Michael would really have liked to pick raspberries, but it was his turn to help Daddy. He pushed the chairs about while Daddy cleaned the carpet. Michael knew what to do because he sometimes helped Mummy with it.
Brrrrrbrrrrr! Brrrrrbrrrrr! Daddy answered the phone in the hall. Michael noticed that Daddy had forgotten to empty the vacuum. He pulled hard on a little lever, and all the dust and fluff fell out onto the carpet again. Michael looked at it in surprise; that didn't happen when Mummy did it. He picked up a handful of fluffy dust and tried to carry it to the waste-paper- basket, but it made him sneeze, and his sneeze blew the dust all over the place again.
Daddy came back, and took Michael out into the garden to Mummy.
"Your turn!" he said, crossly. He forgot to say "Thank you, Michael."
Michael wanted to hold the basket for the raspberries while Mummy picked them.
"All right, but don't eat them," said Mummy, firmly. " They might give you a tummy ache, and I want to make some raspberry jam."
When they had finished, Michael carried the basket carefully into the kitchen for Mummy.
"Thank you very much, Michael," she said. "You were a great help."
Michael felt very proud.
After dinner, David and John and Daddy wanted to go to the field to play football.
"Play football too," said Michael.
"I'd better come as well," said Mummy, "Otherwise you'll need eyes in the back of your head."
Michael looked in surprise at Daddy. He would look funny with eyes in the back of his head!
David and John put their coats down in the field to make goal-posts, and everyone enjoyed kicking goals against Daddy. Mummy won. Michael had his own little football. It didn't always go where he meant it to. He tried to kick a goal, but the ball went in the bushes instead. He crawled round under the branches looking for his ball. Suddenly he found a plant with a lot of lovely red berries. He would pick them for Mummy's jam! Quickly he filled his pockets with the berries. The juice made his fingers a pretty red colour. Michael put one of the berries in his mouth, but then he remembered what Mummy had said about getting a tummy ache, so he spat it out again. He had had a tummy ache yesterday when he ate too much. It was horrid.
"Michael, come out of those bushes!" called Daddy. Michael crawled out, covered in juice.
"Nice berries!" he said.
Mummy and Daddy were not pleased at all.
"Oh, Michael, what have you eaten?" cried Mummy. "We'll have to take you to the hospital."
Daddy ran home to get the car. David and John collected the coats and footballs.
"Are they poisonous berries?" asked David.
"I don't know," said Mummy anxiously. "Drive faster, Daddy!"
Michael had never been to hospital before. A lady in a white coat came and looked at him and poked a cold thing under his vest. She held his hand.
"Michael, how many berries did you eat?" she asked.
"Nice berries!" said Michael.
"He can't count yet," said John.
"He'd better stay in over-night," said the lady. "Put him in that cot and we'll keep an eye on him."
Mummy, Daddy and David all went down the crridor to get a drink. John said he'd stay with Michael.
"He might tell you, John," said Mummy.
John wondered how to find out how many berries Michael had eaten. "Where did you put the berries, Michael?" he asked.
Michael put his hand in his pocket. It came out all juicy.
"Mummy make jam," he said, wiping his little red fingers on the white sheet. John held Michael's hand through the bars of the cot.
"Michael, think carefully! Did you eat any?" asked John.
"No," said Michael, shaking his head. "Mummy say get tummy ache."
The lady in the white coat had been listening.
"That's good," she said. "He's fine. He can go home in the morning."
Next morning Daddy fetched Michael from the hospital. Mummy and David and John all hugged him when he got home.
"Make jam now?" asked Michael.
- Why do you think Daddy was cross when he took Michael out to Mummy in the garden?
- Why did Michael have to go to hospital?
- Who do you think the lady in the white coat was?
- Why couldn't Michael tell her how many berries he had eaten?
To be continued...
Alan and Rosie
Joyce and Rosie
Three Little Pigs
Michael Helps Out
So What Do Vegetarians Eat?
David Pearce's Home Page