I’m First


It was going to be a surprise day for the Harmon children. No one knew where they were going or what they were going to do, except their dad. “Hurry! Get in the car,” he said.

“I’m first,” said Julia.

“I’m second,” said Tony.

“I’m third,” said Jerry.

“I’m fourth,” said Cindy.

“I’m last,” said Herman as he crawled over Cindy to get in the middle.

Dad started the car and they were on their way. The children looked around excitedly—all except Herman. He was looking at something on the floor of the car.

“What’s in these boxes, Dad?” asked Herman.

“They’re part of the surprise,” answered Dad. “Now, all of you close your eyes and don’t open them until you feel the car come to a stop.”

Everyone closed their eyes tightly. They could feel the car moving down the street and around a corner. Finally it slowed down and stopped. All of their eyes popped open. They looked around. “Oh, Dad, the zoo!” they shouted all together. And they tumbled out of the car and dashed to the turnstile at the zoo entrance.

“I’m first,” said Tony.

“I’m second,” said Julia.

“I’m third,” said Cindy.

“I’m fourth,” said Jerry.

“I’m last,” said Herman, running under the turnstile.

“What would you like for a treat?” asked Dad.

“Popcorn!” “Peanuts!” shouted the children.

Dad bought three sacks of popcorn and two bags of peanuts.

They munched and shared and listened while Dad told them about the many different animals they saw. When they had seen all there was to see, Dad took them back to the car.

Herman remembered the mysterious-looking boxes. So did Dad. He took the smaller box out of the car and put it on the ground. He took the lid off, and the children looked inside. They saw a brandnew yellow kickball. Dad took them across the street to the sunny park to play.

“I’m first,” said Cindy.

“I’m second,” said Tony.

“I’m third,” said Jerry.

“I’m fourth,” said Julia.

“I’m last,” said Herman, skipping to the end of the line.

After they each had had several turns kicking the ball, Dad called them back to look in the other box. He put it on a bench while the children stood around and watched. He reached inside and took out potato salad, fried chicken, rolls, potato chips, and chocolate cupcakes.

“Hurray!” shouted the children. “We’re hungry.” Then they all hurried to sit around a picnic table. The children ate and ate until they could eat no more. Then they all helped clean up.

“It’s getting late,” said Dad. “We’d best be on our way home.”

Arriving home, Julia shot out of the car and shouted, “Last one in the house has a purple nose! And I’m first!”

“I’m second,” said Tony.

“I’m third,” said Cindy.

“I’m fourth,” said Jerry.

“I’m last,” laughed Herman, holding his “purple” nose.

They all hugged their mother and told her about the wonderful day they had had with Dad. Mother hugged them back and listened to each one of them tell about their day.

When they were through with their excited talking, Mother told them it was bedtime. “Get into your pajamas and get into bed.”

“I’m first,” said Julia, running upstairs.

“I’m second,” said Tony, running downstairs.

“I’m third,” said Jerry, running downstairs.

“I’m fourth,” said Cindy, running upstairs.

“And I’m last,” sighed Herman happily, snuggling on Mother’s lap as she gently rocked him to sleep.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney