Abigail’s Special Birthday Gift

Abigail Hyatt was almost seven and her daddy let her choose where to have her birthday party. It had been a sad winter and a party was a good idea.

‘Can we have it at the park?’ Abigail asked.

‘Which park, Abigail?’

‘The big one, the one Mummy loved.  You know… the one where we threw the rose petals after her funeral.’

‘If that’s where you want it, then that’s where we will have it.’ He kissed the tip of her nose.

Abigail smiled. ‘I’ll help with the invitations but we have to invite Grandpa and Grandma Lawson. Do you think they’ll come, Daddy?’

‘You can ask them. They would like that.’

Her smile faded. “I wish they didn’t live so far away. Do you think Grandpa and Grandma miss Mummy too?”

‘I’m sure they do. I would miss you, my darling daughter, if you had died. Now, let’s not be sad. Mummy would want us to enjoy your party.’

‘I want to wear the party dress Mummy bought me last year.’

‘Abigail, honey, I don’t think it will fit. You have grown so tall. Why don’t we go to the mall tomorrow after school and see what we can find?’

‘Okay Daddy.’

Finally, the party day arrived. It was a sunny day and the park had lots of spring flowers growing in the gardens. Abigail could see her grandparents at the end of the short path that led to the playground. They were tying balloons on swings and trees. There were two picnic tables.  One had lots of party food on it and the other held a huge birthday cake with pink icing.

‘Grandma! Grandpa!’ Abigail called and ran to meet them.

‘Abigail! You look so grown up and your party dress is so pretty,’ Grandma said, smiling.

‘It’s Mummy’s favourite colour. Do you think she’d like it?’

‘I think it’s perfect,” Grandpa said.’

‘Abigail.’ Daddy spoke quietly. “Your friends have arrived.’

She looked up at her father to ask him to greet them for her, but he was wiping something out of his eye. Grandma hugged Abigail. Abigail knew Grandma was crying too so she hugged her as well. ‘Oh Grandma, I miss Mummy soooo much, but she would want us to enjoy the party.’

Grandpa hugged them both. ‘Yes, she would. Now go and meet your friends and enjoy the afternoon.’

Abigail greeted her friends and opened her presents. A clown skipped into the playground, making the children laugh. He twisted balloons to form the shape of little animals, stood on his hands and spun hoops on his feet. Abigail thought it was the best party ever.

Abigail was too excited to go to bed that night. After her bath, she dressed in her new summer night gown, and sat on Grandpa’s knee while he read her favourite story. She knew it almost by heart because her mummy had always read it before she went to sleep—sometimes twice.

Daddy entered the room carrying a glass of milk. “Grandma and Grandpa Lawson want to talk to you.’

Abigail felt suddenly afraid. Daddy had said something like that when Mummy got sick. She remembered that Mummy was crying and Daddy told her they would be okay. Abigail climbed off her grandpa’s knee and went to her daddy.

‘It’s all right.” Grandma smiled at her. “Everything is OK.’

‘You see,” Daddy said, lifting Abigail onto his knee. “We all miss Mummy very much and…’

‘What your daddy is trying to say, is that we miss your mummy, too.” Grandma added. “But we also miss you and your daddy.’

Grandpa sat on the floor in front of Daddy and Abigail reached down to hug his neck.

Grandpa took a deep breath. ‘Grandma and I want to move in with you and Daddy, at least until we get a house close by. Your daddy and I talked about it a lot and we think your mummy would like it. What do you think?’

‘This is the best birthday gift ever! Can they live with us, Daddy… please?’

‘Abigail, this is your birthday gift. It’s up to you.’ Daddy was laughing now. He hadn’t laughed for a long time.

She jumped off her father’s knee and hugged her grandpa and her grandma. ‘Please come and stay— I’ll even let you call me Abby. Mummy always called me Abby.’

© 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
Children’s Corner by Chrissy at Riverside Peace

Locked Out!

‘Geraldine! Open the door. Please, let me explain.’

‘Go away, Mum! I don’t want to talk to you.’

‘Please understand, Geraldine. I had to do it.’

‘That’s just so lame.’ Geraldine rolled her eyes. ‘You’re pathetic.’

Geraldine’s mobile phone played her favourite Red-Hot Chili Peppers song: Nobody Weird like Me. She grabbed her iridescent purple phone from the bed and checked the caller ID. Crystal’s photo appeared on the screen. ‘Hi, Crystal, I’m not really in the mood to talk.’

‘Geraldine, what’s going on? I was about to knock on your front door when I heard you screaming.’

‘Where are you now?’

‘At your front gate. Where are you?’

‘In my bedroom, but…’

‘I’ll come around to your window.’

Geraldine was about to argue but realized Crystal had rung off. By the time she opened the window Crystal was outside waiting.

To Geraldine’s relief, Crystal kept her voice quiet. ‘So, are you going to tell me what’s going on?’

Geraldine turned and threw herself back onto the bed. ‘I can’t believe she did it.’

‘Did what?’ Crystal raised her voice to a hoarse whisper to be heard from where she stood in the garden.

‘She threw Dad out.’

Crystal climbed through the window. ‘He’s been drinking again?’

‘Just because he likes a drink after work…’ Geraldine bit her lip and paused. ‘It wasn’t his fault that he hit her last night.’ She began to cry.

‘Hey, girl, you can’t possibly think he should stay if he’s hitting her.’

‘But, he’s my dad and it’s his home too.’

Geraldine’s best friend sat beside her and put an arm around her shoulder. ‘Do you remember when my mother threw my dad out?’

‘That’s different, Crystal; he was beating you and your brother. I remember going to the hospital with you when he broke your arm.’

‘Like, before that, he was hitting my mother. She used to hide out the backyard until he fell asleep, but then he started beating us instead. Yes, Geraldine, that’s why she threw him out, but do you think your mother is going to wait for that to happen to you? Your mother knows what we went through.’

There was a gentle knock on the bedroom door and Geraldine accepted a tissue from Crystal to wipe her eyes.

Her mother’s voice was croaky. ‘Geraldine, can we talk?’

‘OK Mum. Just a minute.’

Crystal gave her Geraldine a quick hug before she climbed back out the window. As she waved goodbye, Geraldine took a deep breath before opening the door.

© 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
Younger Teens by Chrissy 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 Children & Teens at Riverside Peace

Butterfly Cakes and Parenting Skills

‘No! And that’s my final word.’

Sarah was irritable. Her twin daughters, Lucy and Annie, had been arguing with her for almost fifteen minutes. They had been invited to their best friend’s Amy ‘teen theme’ birthday party the following Saturday. The problem was she would be eight; the same age as the twins.

The girls stomped off to their bedroom just as the telephone rang. Sarah took a deep breath and released it slowly.

‘Hello.’ Rubbing her forehead, she leaned against the wall to ease the weariness that threatened to overtake her.

‘Well, you sound happy.’ It was Connie, Amy’s mother.

‘Hello Connie. I’m sorry, sometimes I find parenting a little stressful.’

‘You? Of all people Sarah. You’re a great parent. You always seem to have it all under control.’

‘Well not today. What can I do for you?’

‘I was just checking if the girls are coming on Saturday.’

‘Actually, it was the party we were discussing. I just don’t feel the theme is appropriate for eight-year-olds. Peter and I made the decision a long time ago that they are not to attend a party which goes against our values.’

Sarah cringed as she realized what she had said. Connie was a good friend who attended the same church.

Connie sighed on the other end of the phone. ‘Can I be frank with you?’

‘Sure, we’re friends.’

‘It was Amy’s suggestion. In fact, she demanded it. Honestly, I have been trying to keep the peace around here. We received a letter from her teacher last week concerning Amy’s rebellious behaviour.’

Sarah made herself busy at the stove.

‘Yesterday, we went shopping to buy her an outfit for the party. I have never been so embarrassed. Her performance was appalling. She insisted on purchasing the skimpiest pair of shorts I have ever seen and the top barely covered her. There wasn’t enough material to cover her navel.’ Connie’s voice reached an intense pitch.

Sarah stirred the contents of the saucepan. ‘Lord, why is it so hard to do what is right as a parent?’

‘Sarah, why does parenting have to be so hard?’

‘I don’t think any parent finds it easy Connie. We aren’t born with the skills either. We all have to learn them—’

Connie resumed talking before Sarah could finish. ‘I was just telling my mother yesterday that I remember some of my own childhood birthday celebrations. We used to dress up in our Sunday best and eat those yummy cakes. You know those little ones? The ones you make so well. You scoop out the little piece from the top, and then add just the right size dollop of cream, before cutting that extra piece in half and sitting it in just the right spot on top, then sprinkling icing sugar over them to give it that perfect sweetness.’

‘Butterfly cakes?’ Sarah smiled at Connie’s description. ‘It almost sounds like parenting skills. You need just the right balance to get it right.’ She laughed at her own illustration.

‘Oh Sarah, I just had a marvellous idea. Why don’t I call all the parents and tell them I’ve changed the theme? It will be a good, old-fashion party for an eight-year-old girl. They can all dress in their Sunday best and you could make butterfly cakes. I think it’s about time I initiated some parenting skills. The first thing I’ll introduce is Christian values.’

Sarah laughed. ‘All right. I’ll talk to Peter tonight. He should be happy with the change, and yes, I think it’s a wonderful idea. Bye.’

‘Goodbye Sarah.’

Sarah was still smiling long after she hung up the phone. She turned to see the twins standing at the door, their arms folded stiffly.

‘What’s so wonderful?’ Annie asked sourly.

‘Well, first of all, go and get the flower-girl dresses you wore to Uncle Tony’s wedding and put them on the sewing table. Then, we need to start on some parenting skills.’

‘What are you talking about?’ Lucy was totally confused.

‘I’m going to bake some butterfly cakes, and you two can help. It’s never too early to learn.’

© 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.