The Cement Mixer


Josh had only a few toys. But his friend, Joe, had a bedroom full of them! There were balls and trucks and games and books. But of all Joe’s toys, Josh liked the cement mixer best. It was a bright green truck with a yellow mixing drum on top. And whenever Josh went over to Joe’s after school, he chose to play with the green and yellow cement mixer.

“Do you want to play with my race cars?” Joe asked one afternoon when they had finished eating some gingersnaps and milk.

“No, thanks,” replied Josh, who was busily running the cement mixer around Joe’s bedroom carpet.

“Then how about a game of checkers, Josh?” his friend asked, getting the checker set out of his big toy box.

Josh only shook his head as he watched the mixer slowly spin on top of the truck.

“Let’s go outside and toss my new football,” suggested Joe.

“Maybe later,” Josh answered.

Finally, Joe chose a soda water truck and began to play beside Josh on the floor, until they could both smell roast beef and knew it was time for dinner.

Joe’s mother came in and said, “Dinner’s ready, Joe. If you clean up your toys now, Josh may call his mother and ask if he may stay for dinner.”

Joe and Josh began grabbing the toys on the floor and putting them in Joe’s toy box. Before they were finished, Josh noticed that the green and yellow cement mixer had fallen over the side of the toy box and was laying on the floor. He started to tell Joe, who was closing the box, but for some reason the words wouldn’t come. Joe closed the toy box and ran to wash his hands. “Call your mom while I’m washing up!” Joe called from the bathroom.

Josh was still sitting on the rug in Joe’s room. Almost before he knew it, he put on his coat and slipped the cement mixer inside of it.

Joe came back in, drying his hands on a towel. “Did you call your mom?” he asked, smiling at Josh.

Josh wiggled around on the floor. “Um, no, I didn’t because I remember that my mom told me to go straight home.”

“OK,” said Joe. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

When he arrived home, Josh didn’t stop and talk to his mother while she fixed dinner like he usually did. Instead, he ran up the stairs to his room.

Josh took the cement mixer truck out from under his coat and ran it along the floor by his bed. It still fascinated him to see the mixer going around and around on top. After he had run the truck around his room once more, Josh stopped. He didn’t seem to enjoy playing with the truck as he did before, and he had an unhappy feeling. In fact, Josh didn’t feel good at all. He wished he could go hide somewhere. He was feeling so bad by this time he didn’t notice his mother when she came into his room with some clean laundry.

“Why, Josh, I didn’t know you were here! I must have been downstairs when you came into the kitchen to talk to me. Did Joe give you that cement mixer? Isn’t it shiny!”

Josh swallowed hard. For a second, he almost said, “Yes, Joe gave me this cement mixer.” But somehow he knew that would only make him feel worse. So he looked down at the carpet and said very softly, “No, Mom, Joe didn’t give it to me. I saw it fall out of his toy box. And when he went into the other room, I put it under my coat and brought it home.”

Josh held his breath and waited for his mother to scold him. Imagine his surprise when she hugged him instead and said very quietly, “Josh, you know you did wrong by taking the cement mixer because it doesn’t belong to you. But you surely did the right thing to tell me the truth. You don’t feel very happy right now, do you, son?”

“No,” replied Josh, past a big lump in his throat.

“Well, I’ll tell you what we can do. After dinner, I’ll go over to Joe’s with you and you can give the cement mixer back and tell him you’re sorry. How would that be?”

“Oh, I couldn’t do that!” declared Josh. But then he looked into his mother’s eyes and heard himself say, “Maybe that would make me feel better.”

So, after dinner, Josh and his mother walked over to Joe’s house. Josh thought about not going in, but deep down inside he really wanted to talk to Joe, even though he felt scared. Josh made himself walk up to the door and ring the bell. When Joe answered, he said, “Here’s your cement mixer, Joe.”

“But I thought you were playing with it here this afternoon,” Joe said with a puzzled look on his face.

Josh swallowed hard. “I was, but when you were washing your hands, I put it under my coat and took it home. Now I want to tell you I’m sorry, and I’ll never do such a thing again.”

Joe looked at Josh for a long time. Then he took the cement mixer from Josh’s hand and said, “Well, that’s OK. I’m glad you brought it back.” He smiled and said, “We’re still friends. How about coming over tomorrow after school to play with my new football?”

Josh felt good again as he nodded his head and thought about how much fun that would be. After all, when you had a friend as great as Joe, who needed a green and yellow cement mixer!

[illustrations] Illustrated by Julie Young