Big Boy David


David was a big boy. He was almost four years old. He could ride his new tricycle very fast.

“Ding! Ding!” went the bell on the handlebar as David pushed the button. “Ding! Ding! Here I come!”

David could keel somersaults. Over he would go on the green grass—one time, two times, three times.

He could lace his shoes all by himself.

He always brought the paper in for Daddy.

He remembered to brush his teeth.

He remembered to say “please” and “thank you.”

But there was one thing David could not remember to do. He could not remember to stay out of the street!

Daddy said, “You must play in the yard, David. It’s dangerous to play in the street! Remember what happened to Carl’s dog?”

Mother said, “Ride your tricycle on the driveway or on the sidewalk, David. It’s dangerous to play in the street! Remember what happened to Kathy’s white kitten?”

But David could not remember to stay out of the street. So everyone worried about him.

Daddy got little worry wrinkles in his forehead.

Mother got tired feet from running to the front door to remind David to play in the yard.

The neighbors got nervous jitters whenever they backed their cars out of their driveways. They were very careful, but they were never quite sure where David might be.

Many people were unhappy—all because David did not remember that it is dangerous to play in the street.

One day when Daddy was at work and Mother was busy baking peanut butter cookies, David climbed on his tricycle. Away he went down the driveway and right out into the middle of the street!

A car came down the street. “Honk! Honk!” said the horn. “Get out of the street!”

A truck came whizzing by. “Honk! Honk!” it said. “Get out of the street!”

A boy on a big bicycle came by. The boy’s name was Jack. He was David’s friend. Jack was wearing his Boy Scout uniform. He had a pretty neckerchief around his neck with an Indian chief slide on it.

Jack stopped his bicycle and got off. “Come out of the street, David,” he said. “Let’s go sit on your front steps and talk.”

David liked to talk with Jack. He parked his tricycle next to Jack’s big bicycle. Then they both sat down on the steps.

“David,” Jack said, “do you want to be a Boy Scout when you are older?”

“Oh, yes!” David answered.

“Then you’ll have to stay out of the street,” Jack told him. “Playing in the street is dangerous!

“The street is for fire engines to hurry to fires. The fire engines cannot hurry if children are playing in the street.

“The street is for milk trucks to carry milk for little babies and for big boys like you.

“The street is for buses to take people to town and for big trucks to haul gravel.

“The street is for cars to take fathers to work.

“Everyone loves you, David. No one wants you to get hurt.

“If I let you wear my neckerchief with my Indian chief slide, do you think you can remember to ride your tricycle on the sidewalk and to play only in the yard?”

David looked at the pretty neckerchief. He looked at the Indian chief slide. He thought for a minute, and then he said, “Yes, I can remember.”

Jack put the neckerchief around David’s neck and tightened it into place with the Indian chief slide. Then he said, “Good-bye, David. Remember!”

David felt proud to be wearing Jack’s neckerchief and the Indian chief slide. He climbed on his tricycle. Down the driveway he zoomed—right for the street.

Then David remembered!

David turned his tricycle around and rode up the driveway to the sidewalk. Up and down the sidewalk he rode. He pushed the bell button. “Ding! Ding! Here I come! Ding! Ding! Here I come!”

That night when David went to bed, he hung the neckerchief where he could see it first thing in the morning. And before he went to sleep he decided that some day he wanted to be a Boy Scout just like Jack. He wanted a neckerchief of his very own with an Indian chief slide. So he decided that every day he would try to remember to play in the yard and to ride his tricycle only on the sidewalk.

And David did remember!

After a while everyone stopped worrying.

The worry wrinkles left Daddy’s forehead.

Mother’s feet weren’t quite so tired.

The neighbors stopped having nervous jitters.

And Jack said, “David, you really are a big boy now. You’re almost a Boy Scout!”

[illustration] Illustrated by Nina Grover