Tommy’s Lesson

Tommy entered the kitchen; his head bent forward to watch his feet as he walked. His hair skimmed the underside of the kitchen counter as he cut the corner.

‘Grandpa, can you help me tie my shoelaces please?’

‘Sure. Up we go.’ He lifted his grandson onto a high kitchen chair.

‘Grandpa, why is it so hard to learn how to tie shoelaces?’

‘That’s a good question. Everything we learn in life can be hard.’

‘Why?’

‘Because it’s part of learning.’

‘Why?’

‘Well, if everything was easy to learn in life there wouldn’t be any strength to our character.’

‘Huh!’

Grandpa slowly looped a shoelace as Tommy watched. ‘Let me put it this way,’ Grandpa continued as he twisted one end of the lace around the loop. ‘Do you remember when your daddy and I took you fishing last summer?’

‘Yes.’ Tommy’s face screwed up. ‘It was so hard to get the worms to stay on the hook and get the fish to bite them.’

‘That’s right. Do you remember how many times you had to practise to get it right?’

‘Lots.’ The little boy nodded once and continued to study his grandfather’s hands.

‘By the end of the weekend you had it just right and you caught the biggest fish for supper.’

Tommy’s face beamed and revealed a toothy grin. He let his foot drop and held up the other one.

‘Your turn,’ Grandpa encouraged.

Tommy wriggled his foot onto his other leg and concentrated on the shoelace. It took a few minutes but eventually he made the final turn and pulled the loop through.

‘There will be other things in life you will need to learn and they won’t be easy either.’

Tommy sat looking at his shoes while he listened. ‘Like what?’

‘Oh, all sorts of things, like how to know the difference between right and wrong, when to make an important decision and how to choose which decision to make.’

‘Why?’

‘Because that’s life and we need to learn lots of things like tying shoelaces and how to fish. Making a decision when choosing what kind of friends we should have can be a tough one.’

‘That sounds really hard. Will I have to learn how to talk to grandsons too?’

The old man laughed. ‘Yes, but not for a while yet; that’s a grown-up’s lesson. You can wait for that.’

‘Look, Grandpa. We tie shoelaces the same. Maybe you practised lots too.’

‘Yep, I practised lots too but some life lessons took longer to learn than others.’

‘Grandpa, can you teach me how to learn other life lessons?’

‘I certainly can but right now… why don’t we have some ice-cream?’

Tommy giggled and his eyes brightened. ‘I guess we don’t have to learn how to eat ice-cream.’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

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Children’s Corner at Riverside Peace

The Runaway

Connie searched the playground the neighbours and the sand pile behind the back shed. Her hand went to her throat to ease the pain that seemed to creep up from her hammering heart. Moisture blurred her vision.

‘ETHAN!’ Connie’s throat grew tight. She had no choice but to call the social worker that had assigned Ethan to Connie and her husband Carl, a few weeks earlier.

She grabbed the phone and dialled. ‘Ethan is missing!’ She blurted out before Rebecca could finish her greeting. ‘I’ve looked everywhere.’ Connie found herself pacing.

‘Calm down Connie. He’s probably run away.’

Connie stood still. ‘Why would he do that?’

‘I don’t know. We get a lot of foster kids who run away. Ethan has been in the system a long time, and with numerous foster families. He’s run away before.’ She sighed. ‘I admit, I thought he was happy with you and Carl, but it’s hard to tell with these kids.’

Thinking more clearly, Connie contemplated the past few weeks. ‘He’s a bright little boy. I thought he was settling in.’ She paused. ‘Carl offered to take Ethan fishing when he returns from the office. He needed a file to work on over the weekend.’

‘Okay, I’ll call the local police and then come around. Just stay calm.’

Carl came in just as Connie hung up the phone. ‘Look who I found in the car under a blanket.’

‘Ethan, you scared me half to death.’ She placed her hand over her mouth and sat down at the table.

Ethan hung his head. ‘I was going to run away when Carl got to town but I fell asleep.’

‘Why would you want to run away?’ Connie dared to ask.

‘I got scared. When the Baker’s took me fishing, they got mad at me because I broke their new rod. They beat me with it and told me I was selfish.’

Carl sat beside Connie and drew Ethan close. ‘You’ll never be beaten here, I promise.’

‘Even if I wet my bed? Mrs Beasley wiped my face with the sheets and then made me wash them.’

Connie gasped. ‘There’s no excuse for bad behaviour by any adult.’ She thought for a moment before continuing. ‘You haven’t wet your bed since you’ve been here. Do you think there’s a reason for that?’

‘I don’t know,’ Ethan shrugged. ‘I’m not scared here.’

‘What kind of things do you like to do?’

Ethan tilted his head and bit his lower lip. He shrugged again.

‘Do you like going to the movies?’

‘I don’t know. I’ve never been. I watched cartoons sometimes at the Webster’s. The other families didn’t let me watch TV.’

‘Football?’ Carl asked.

‘The beach?’ Connie added.

Ethan began to whimper. ‘I haven’t been anywhere much—just school and the playground.’ A lone tear rolled down his face. ‘I like the playground.’ He wiped the tear away. ‘Can I go there again?’

Connie looked at Carl for a long moment. She pulled Ethan onto her lap. He was short for a seven-year-old but it was his frail body and lightness that had surprised her.

Ethan stiffened but soon relaxed in Connie’s arms.

She kissed his cheek. ‘We can go to the park together. How about a picnic of burgers and soda?’ She released her embrace. A tear stained face looked back at her.

‘What’s a pick nick?’

Carl sighed deeply. His sad eyes met Connie’s. ‘There’s a lot we can do. I think a picnic lunch at the playground is the perfect place to begin.’

A knock sounded at the front door. ‘Rebecca. I forgot all about her.’

Carl let Rebecca in and explained the situation.

Ethan’s lip trembled. He looked up at Connie. ‘Will I have to go to another foster family?’

‘No sweetie’, Rebecca answered for Connie. ‘But you need to talk to Carl and Connie in the future if you’re unsure of anything.’

‘Connie and Carl won’t beat me.’ It was a statement rather than a question.

Rebecca knelt down beside Ethan as he slid off Connie’s lap. ‘No, Ethan. This family is…different.’

Ethan looked up at Carl then to Connie, then back to Rebecca. ‘Why are they different?’

‘Well firstly,’ Carl began. ‘We really want you to be our son—to adopt you as soon as you feel ready. If that’s okay’, he added.’

The corners of Ethan’s mouth turned upwards.

‘Really? Yes, please!’

© Chrissy Siggee

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Archived in
Short Fiction by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

A Day in the Life of a Busy Mum

A little cry drifts down the hall
announcing Jane’s awake—
Breakfast dishes partly done,
Just a small sacrifice to make.

‘Share’, she says, stepping over twins and blocks.

The washing machine begins to shake
And little Amy’s has a fall—
Two more loads will do today,
A bigger machine, I really need.

‘There now’ she soothes, stroking Amy’s locks.

Tim and Robbie are almost five.
Will their fighting ever end?
At least next year they’ll go to school,
to miss them she could not pretend.

‘Coming,’ she sighs, picking up a pair of socks.

The telephone rings in her room
She grabs it as she passes by—
Judy’s baby isn’t sleeping,
She’s so tied she wants to cry.

‘It’s ok’ she smiles, ‘I can mind your little Enoch.’

Amy wants to change her clothes
and play out in the rain.
‘Not right now my little one,
It’s time to feed our baby Jane.’

‘Mummy’s here’, she s smiles, giving Jane a gentle rock.

Jane is finally fed and bathed,
and it’s only half past eight!
Little Amy’s far too quiet…
last week she escaped through the gate!

I need to remind Tom to fix that lock.

Now there’s someone at the door,
Tim and Robbie run down the hall—
Oh dear, Robbie’s lost another shoe,
He lost the last pair at the mall.

‘Come on,’ she calls, ‘let’s answer that knock.’

Enoch really has a lot of zest,
being quite the noisy guest—
He’s into this and into that,
She hopes poor Judy gets some rest.

‘Lunch time’, she announces, glancing at the clock.

Macaroni is a lunchtime favorite,
Followed by cup of juice…
Looks like more dishes will have to wait,
Where does her morning go?

‘Wash you face,’ she laughs. ‘You gave me quite a shock.’

Enoch forgot to bring his bedtime toy,
It took a while to calm him down—
The twins woke up tired and cranky,
Oh dear, Amy’s made her wall all … brown.

Peek-a-boo!’ She surprises little Amy wearing Mummy’s frock.

Chaos reigns in an afternoon frenzy,
Toys and books spread everywhere—
Judy looks a whole lot better,
She even found the time to brush her hair.

‘Daddy will be home soon boys, so put away your blocks.’

A little cry drifts down the hall,
Announcing Jane’s awake…
Perhaps Tom will order pizza for tea.
Sigh…she never did get time to bake his birthday cake.

© Chrissy Siggee

Archived in
Poetry by Chrissy at Riverside Peace